Delegates discuss improving the union’s organising approach

The cost of living crisis presents a new set of challenges that require a new set of solutions

Set dressing and delegates in the conference hall

Stating that she was “proud of our organising response in the pandemic,” UNISON vice president Andrea Egan told delegates in Brighton this morning that, “every year, this conference restates our commitment to organising”.

As national delegate conference debated a motion on Building the union – organising for our future, she voiced concern that, given the cost of living crisis, members will be looking at their bills and thinking about ending their direct debit for union membership.

The situation presented “a new set of challenges that urgently require a new set of responses.”

The NEC wanted to develop an ambitious new approach, with a “shift from the servicing model”.

Joanne Moorcroft from Cheshire police branch said: “I don’t just want our union to survive, I want it to thrive in the face of austerity.

“The challenge we face is enormous. The cost of living crisis is already making it harder to recruit and retain members.”

Tony Barnsley from Sandwell told delegates: “Our power lies in our members using their collective power.”

And he told them of admin workers in Sandwell winning a 20% pay rise after a 100% ballot on 100% turnout.

The single most important action in achieving this was ringing members every week until they had voted.

Conference backed the motion, which included a substantial number of individual actions, including:

  • establishing accurate organising benchmark data with regular and transparent reporting of progress;
  • urge branches, where appropriate, to identify three employers in their branch where a campaign of recruitment and/or recognition can be launched;
  • deliver increased standardisation of organising tools, templates, techniques and training across the union.