Organising and growing our membership in the Private Contractors and Community

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2018 National Delegate Conference
23 February 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that UNISON membership in Private Contractors and Community employers continues to grow due to both increased recruitment but also increased contracting. In 2017 recruitment in these areas now represents nearly 31% of all new joiners nationally. This proportion was matched almost exactly in the East Midlands, with around 6% joining from Community and 26% joining from private employers across all service groups. In both private contractors and Community employers UNISON is recruiting more members than its losing, leading to a gradual change in the overall composition of the union.

Conference reflects that the changing make-up of employers in UNISON presents huge challenges, particularly at regional and branch level. This growing membership is highly fragmented; only a small number of employers have a substantial UNISON membership, with the rest of these members in small isolated workplaces like nurseries and small care homes. Many branches do not have facility time to support these members and cuts have reduced our number of activists and put increasing pressure on time and resources. The only way that UNISON will be able support members in Community employers and private contractors is by developing an organising approach at all levels of the union. As Conservative policy at Westminster continues to encourage privatisation UNISON faces a huge challenge, however it also has the opportunity to significantly grow in the outsourced sector.

In the experience of Conference, there is no single organising model for members in private and Community employers. Regions and branches all face specific local circumstances and challenges, ranging from geographical boundaries to hostile employers. Conference however welcomes the way many branches and regions across the country have risen to meet some of these challenges and commends the innovative and creative solutions they have found.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to include and prioritise private company and Community service group organising in their proposed strategic review of resources.

In the interim period before the review reports, Conference calls on the National Executive Council to campaign for facility time in all employers where UNISON has members and to separately consider and promote the following suggestions for:

1)Branches to:

a)Identify through their Joint Branch Assessment one, or a number of, private or Community employers to target for recruitment and activist development. This should be done with due regard to any National Executive Council national targets or wider national or regional priorities;

b)Continue to reach out to their current private and Community membership through targeted communication or organising;

c)Encourage members to take part in the UNISON National Private Contractor Forums;

d)Elect or appoint a nominated officer within the branch committee to have oversight in organising and supporting members in private and Community employers.

2)Regions to:

a)Work with branches to look at ideas on how to structure branches and allocate members from private and Community employers;

b)Use Fighting Fund, Regional Pool and other resources, where appropriate, to support branches to organise and recruit in private and Community employers;

c)Identify as part of their Regional plan a number of strategic target employers in the private and Community sector, paying due accord to any National Executive Council priorities;

d)Continue to support new activists to become trained and active, and to ensure that members from private and community employers are engaged with regional structures and democracy.