Promoting the Union as an Organising Union

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2018 National Delegate Conference
20 February 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that since the formation of UNISON twenty five years ago there has been significant progress in recruiting and organising new members. As a result of the work done across the whole union, UNISON is now the largest UK trade union. It is particularly pleasing, from the point of view of the future of the union, to note that there has been a year on year increase in the number of young members joining, at a time when other unions report difficulties in attracting young members. The continued increase in private sector membership shows the importance of following public service workers into the private sector, even while UNISON remains committed to public provision of public services. All this has been achieved at a time when the challenges facing the trade union movement both nationally and internationally have never been greater.

Nevertheless Conference is aware that much remains to be done to turn UNISON into an ‘organising union’. The variation in membership density between branches and employers shows the scope for increased effectiveness. One of the biggest challenges remains embedding best practice across the whole union.

Conference believes that to be more effective we need to ensure that all parts of the union are focussed on:

1)Increasing membership engagement both in terms of the democratic processes and in the promotion of UNISON policies. Self Organised Groups and Migrant Networks clearly have a role to play in this crucial work;

2)Developing more activists across the whole union, particularly in those areas where there is under-representation such as the private sector and from areas that are under-represented such as low paid women, Black and migrant workers.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to look at how this can be achieved and report back to a future Conference, having regard to the following challenges:

a)Making sure that best practice is more effectively disseminated to activists and organisers at all levels and in all parts of the union as and when it is identified;

b)Overcoming the barriers posed in organising employers whose workforce cuts across current branch, regional and service group boundaries;

c)The challenge faced by branches in organising and representing an increasingly fragmented membership, when many activists employed by the core public sector employer are denied facility time, particularly when covering workers not employed by the core employer;

d)How to ensure greater inclusion at branch and regional and national level for private and voluntary sector members;

e)Preparing the union to deal with the threat posed by automation, both in terms of its impact on jobs and organising.

Recognising that we need a whole union response including support from our retired members.