Energy delegates cast their eye on ‘untapped markets’ for new members

Energy conference delegates agreed to launch a national recruitment campaign targeting both young members in the energy industry and those working in outsource centres.

These are two “untapped markets” that could result in tens of thousands of new members.

Max Darby of the North West Gas branch said there was a “real deficit” of young members from the sector, and that they would add to the diversity and strength of the union.

Equally, the increase in outsourcing by energy companies meant there were many employees working on lesser terms and conditions than those doing the same jobs, who were unionised.

“There is a massive need for trade unions to be in there,” he said.

Michael Melia of the service group executive added that the motion “comes at a vital time for our union. It is not enough for us to stand still as a union. We need to grow and evolve.”

Other motions approved by the energy conference concerned the need to support and train meter readers whose jobs were affected in the advent of smart meters, and to persuade more energy companies to sign up to the union’s call centre charter.

Melanie Starkey of the national disabled members committee told delegates that British Gas was the only company to sign up to the charter, which was launched in 2012 with the aim of improving the standards of all those staff working in call centres.

Health and safety, the need for proper breaks and protection from the pressure of unrealistic performance targets were all issues that the charter addresses. 

“But we need to give it a push,” said Ms Starkey. “We need to make sure that the charter becomes a fact.”