Recruiting and Organising Black members

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2017 National Black Members' Conference
19 September 2016

This National Black Members Conference notes the Tory majority Government’s ongoing attacks on public services and its workers and the disproportionate impact these have on Black workers.

Black workers in public services often find themselves in low paid jobs, with poor job security, terms & conditions and subject to unfavourable treatment. Unfortunately with more budget cuts expected in Local Government and the ongoing fragmentation of our health and voluntary services this situation is only going to get worse.

Whilst UNISON cannot prevent every job loss or reorganisation, our union has a proud and impressive track record of standing up for our members, doing all we can to avoid and minimise job cuts and ensuring fairness and adherence to policy and processes for ALL. Unity is strength and it is essential to be part of UNISON in good times, but most importantly in bad.

Regrettably some workers now see trade union membership as something they don’t need to think about until they experience a problem at work. We need to look at how we get the message out that being a member of UNISON is about joining a collective and coming together to speak in solidarity with one voice and that rather like home insurance, it’s too late to sign up when your house is on fire.

Recruiting and organising is the key priority for UNISON at all levels and each of us has a role to play. Only by building and growing our membership can we ensure that our union is truly representative of the diverse workforce we represent. UNISON’s recruitment materials and TV adverts have been very successful in recent years but it is important to recognise that there continue to be barriers to why Black workers don’t join. To recruit Black workers and achieve our recruitment potential this needs to acknowledged and addressed.

In these challenging times it has never been more important for Black members to become active in the union; both as stewards and Branch Officers. UNISON strives to be representative of its membership at all levels and it is important to look at how, after recruiting Black members, we support and encourage them to become active and engaged not just in the workplace but at branch, regional and national level. As with recruitment consideration needs to be given to relevant materials, messaging and support available. Mentoring or budding can be an effective way to encourage new members to find out more and encourage them to take the next steps into activism and we need to look at how we promote this more widely.

This National Black Members’ Conference calls on the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) to:

1)Liaise/consult with Regional Black Members’ Committees on:

a)their views and experiences on barriers to membership for Black workers and possible ways to overcome these

b) to share best practice on successful regional recruitment techniques and initiatives.

2)Look at how we can promote UNISON to Black workers in new ways and investigate if different/ targeting messaging/materials may be more effective

3)Look at materials currently used to promote becoming workplace contacts and activists and consider if these could be improved or adapted to be more relevant and effective

4)Encourage regions to work with branches and Black activists to examine the ethnic make-up of branch committees, stewards and Branch Officers to ensure these are representative of the membership/workforce and offer support and training where needed.

Submitted by: Greater London Region

NBMC Policy: Support