Recruitment and Retention of Members

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2019 National Delegate Conference
19 February 2019

Conference notes with pride the increase in UNISON membership during 2018 and commends the effort made by branches and activists towards this significant achievement in the face of unrelenting Tory cuts to public services.

Throughout the decade of austerity UNISON has managed to mitigate membership losses and recruit new activists through its key Meeting the Organising Challenge (MTOC) strategy, this involved deploying resources at all levels towards organising and wherever possible converting administration resources into organising resources. Another key point of the Organising strategy has involved the fighting fund, which has allowed branches to access critical organising support to recruit new members, identify potential work place leaders and train and mentor new stewards.

We recognise that membership growth has only been sustained due to the union’s campaign and organising agenda and investment in our MTOC strategies. Conference believes that UNISON must now work to ensure that the small but significant increase marks a watershed moment and the end of the years of decreases in member numbers.

Conference, however, notes with concern that future growth is still challenged by austerity which contrary to Theresa May’s statements has not gone away and it is only by targeting resources towards recruitment and retention that we can continue to challenge austerity policies from the bottom up. Austerity has not only reduced UNISON’s membership across all service groups but has crucially seen our activist base depleted through the redundancy/early retirement of many experienced stewards and branch officers. Government policy has therefore threatened the very existence of our union and continues to do so.

Conference therefore affirms that it is now vital to ensure adequate resources are allocated to ensure current levels of organising support are maintained in order to build on the successes of 2018, Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to ensure:

1)That recruitment and retention is a flagged as a key priority within local organising frameworks;

2)That branches and regions continue to work in partnership to identify areas in need of organising support;

3)That sufficient funds are made available to secure current levels of resources;

4)That branches, regional councils and committees continue to prioritise the recruitment, organising and retention of members as a key objective in their work plans and to discuss this as a standing item at their meetings;

5)That branches formulate a strategy, as part of any recruitment plan, to retain members who would otherwise leave the union.