Supporting our Supporters

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2017 Energy Service Group Conference
27 February 2017

As the Energy Industry has changed from the “glory’’ days of

privatisation to the very complicated structures we now have to

organise within so too has the range of problems affecting our members and representatives.

The Energy Sector has faced major changes including the splitting off of the distribution businesses, company mergers, business diversification, the sell-off of established core businesses such as retail and contracting, outsourcing and off-shoring. Workers have been shifted from company to company and role to role with changing working conditions, new locations, different contract terms and increasing employment insecurity.

The rise of call centre operations has brought an obvious pressure for fast and efficient responses to customer enquiries with increasingly regimented ways of working, productivity targets and disciplinary procedures. The introduction of smart metering is bringing huge changes in the way meter fitting and reading is managed with many jobs being lost (as in meter reading) or having a limited duration (as in smart meter fixing).

These changes have completely transformed our working landscape

and have greatly impacted upon the way we organise for representation and the actual role of our trade union representatives. Too often our representatives struggle to provide advice on complex issues, ongoing support to individual and group concerns, and the excellent representation of our members that we aim to feature in our front line response. We can sometimes place huge expectations on ourselves to deal with complicated and sensitive work issues on behalf of our members in our own companies and those who work alongside us, with limited resources and time.

What help is available to support the supporter?

We call upon the Energy Service Group Executive to identify what

support is being provided both regionally and nationally to over-worked Trade Union Representatives, to identify where there are unmet needs, to establish examples of good working practices between branches and to share these with all branches within the Business and Environment Sector.

In addition we believe a workshop should be arranged at the 2017

Energy Seminar to look at the specific issues we may have in obtaining support for our representatives with a view to delivering some strategic planning to target the issue across the energy sector both nationally and regionally. It would be helpful if there could be regional staff present at the Energy Seminar.

Thirdly we believe UNISON should increase awareness and access to training opportunities amongst its representatives particularly with

regard to equality, counselling and specialist training courses that could enable representatives to build their resilience and that of their branch colleagues to deliver confident and sustainable support.

Finally we call upon the Energy Service Group Executive to provide a point of contact to act as liaison and set expectations between

representative and member when all other local and regional avenues have been exhausted, particularly in those cases where representative and member work for different employers and at different locations.

Western Energy Branch

20 February 2017