Advice for Union Contacts from our National Organiser
When focusing upon recruitment of new members in your workplace .. think about the following. It may seem obvious but its crucial to successful recruitment:
- Communication is key – Talk to colleagues, social work students, people on placement… Why is it important to be part of a trade union collective? Contribute your thoughts and ideas to colleagues, and to the SWU monthly newsletter via “Union Contact Corner”.
- Incorporate discussions into social events and informal gatherings.
- Make yourself known and be accessible – have flyers with your name and contact details.
- Provide colleagues with relevant SWU leaflets and make use of noticeboards and staffrooms where things are more likely to be seen.
- Promote the “specialist” aspect of the Union – SWU staff are all qualified and registered Social Workers with insight and knowledge of social work issues – and there’s the additional benefit of being a member of BASW, the professional association.
When thinking about potential campaigns it’s important to discuss and gather information. Never assume that colleagues will be as passionate about an issue as you are. You can play a part in enlightening them and imparting knowledge, but two-way communication is important to discover their concerns.
- Conversations – What issues are important and relevant to colleagues?
- You might discover that issues of concern are very specific to your workplace – parking / lack of admin support / unpaid overtime.
- It’s often smaller frustrating issues that colleagues are more passionate about and are more likely to support in campaigning for or against.
- Always feedback to SWU – its important to campaign collectively and to make us aware of the issues that concern our members.
- Communication – ASK / LISTEN / FEEDBACK / DISCUSS / PROGRESS
As a Trade Union we care about the work/life balance and wellbeing of our members and our Union Contacts who are volunteering their time to do this important role. We realise that family commitments mean you can’t always attend demonstrations and rallies, but Activism takes many forms, and it’s just as important recruitment colleagues in work as it is attending events. However, for those of us who do enjoy the rapture of a large collective rally (myself included) here are a few tips:
- Be loud, be visible!
- Attend events, demonstrations and rallies collectively rather than individually. Get your colleagues, families and kids involved.
- Check our events calendar and keep yourselves and members updated.
- Be uniform – SWU have matching flags, banners, tee-shirts etc – this looks good and gets us recognised. As a Union Contact you’ll be provided with merchandise to distribute to colleagues or fellow students.
- Find what’s right for you – If you can’t attend demos and rallies focus on workplace newsletters and mini recruitment drives. You’ll be provided with freebies and flyers to help you with this – and it’s still “Activism”.
- Be conscious of broader political issues and the impact of austerity (as social workers we already have an advantage!) Knowledge is Power!!
- Encourage activism amongst colleagues and each other – standing together and supporting each other will help grow and strengthen Our Union.