UNISON’s branch resources review, which aims to reform how the union’s branches operate and produce a fairer environment for them, is nearing its conclusion.
The package of draft proposals will be presented to the union’s national delegate conference (NDC) in the summer for final approval.
But before that they have already been discussed at regional meetings across the UK, including in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the North West, Northern, West Midlands, Eastern, the South East, Greater London and the South West.
The proposed changes have also been discussed at many of the union’s committees. All this feedback has been taken on board and the proposals amended.
UNISON president Josie Bird, who chairs the branch resources review group, said: “Each presentation has resulted in interesting and challenging questions from committee members and branch activists. We’ve listened and amended our proposals to reflect this feedback.
“As we move towards the NDC in June we will be on the road – virtually, of course – so please do try to attend one of the sessions where I – along with my colleagues on the review – will explain the proposals in detail and the reasoning behind them.”
The fifteen draft proposals
- A new branch funding formula 2021 – The last formula was designed in 2001. The new formula has been developed in response to the change of circumstances in which branches now operate, providing a more equitable solution across the union.
- A new branch support and organising fund – This brings together the best of both the regional pool and fighting fund.
- Subsidised access to CaseWeb system – This will provide one place for all casework, meeting our environmental and GDPR commitments.
- A national procurement offer to branches – The SMS department at UNISON Centre will use economies of scale and expertise to achieve savings for branches.
- Online meetings – Upholding and enhancing the union’s democracy has been central to all of the review group’s discussions. This proposal is that some meetings in the annual cycle could take place online, with savings returned to branches. The union’s response to the impact of COVID-19 has shown us that we can operate using technology.
- Improved conference services and revised timetabling – A proposal to introduce a central booking system for travel and accommodation at UNISON conferences. Also under consideration is the timetabling and grouping of conferences to achieve savings.
- A union-wide RMS upgrade – This upgrade could provide an integrated system for branches, regions and UNISONdirect to use, rather than the Web Access RMS (WARMS) system that branches currently use. The upgrade also presents an opportunity for improved communications with members.
- A branch service portal – The proposal is to launch a new branch services web portal to bring together guides, links and other resources needed to run a branch. The proposal is to create a central digital environment where branch officers can access all information that may be required in the process of running a branch.
- Enhanced bargaining support – The proposal is to improve access and awareness of the existing bargaining support service of factsheets, guides and private company research to reach more activists.
- New online branch expenses module (inside OLBA) – Designed to simplify the requirements placed on branch treasurers.
- An update of the Code of Good Branch Practice
- Development of a facility time strategy
- Effective promotion of the Organising School events – A national organising school led by UNISON NEC and regions to grow the number of skilled and experienced reps and stewards.
- BRR Implementation Group.