Help your union to help you – get involved

Reps from Wessex South Central Branch headed to Southampton Mail Centre last month for a CWU recruitment and organising event aimed at increasing member participation and bringing new people into the union.

Branch secretary Martin Sheppard, women’s officer Shirley Edwards and equality officer Andy Rathbone worked with field organiser Michelle Daykin to host the day-long workshop.

All too often – in Royal Mail delivery offices particularly – the unit rep’s job can become extremely demanding, with workloads sometimes becoming unmanageable, and workplace committees can be enormously helpful in supporting the office rep, and strengthening the union’s frontline presence to the benefit of all members.

This was a key session of the day, which also focussed on recruitment drives, and membership records.

“Working together, we tailored the workshop on mapping, recruitment, communications and workplace committees,” explained Michelle, adding: “This meant that the reps could share ideas, experiences, best practice and have an opportunity outside of their workplace to think strategically about how to approach members and non-members.”

Andy said that the intention had been to provide practical ideas for “improving not just the level of membership, but also the level of activism of existing members wanting to become more involved.”

With the threat of privatisation looming over Royal Mail staff, on top of all the other major issues that postal workers are currently facing, he pointed out that “there has never been a more important time to get organised and events like this are a vital part of ensuring this.”

The prospect of private ownership of the business was also a key mobilising issue for Shirley, who said: “Recruitment is hugely important, especially in this current climate with the threat of privatisation hanging over our heads.

“This was my first attempt at part facilitating a workshop but I found it very enjoyable and informative,” she continued.

“As the old saying goes – ‘There is strength in numbers’ – and we need the numbers and the organisation to keep strong.”

Local reps John McCarthy (Totton DO) and Rob Hayhurst (Shirley DO) gave the initiative the thumbs-up. John described the workshop as “a necessity,” adding that “even seasoned reps need a refresher every now and then,” and Rob said that he found the members’ mapping exercises particularly useful.

As well as his local unit duties, Rob also serves as an area delivery rep, and he commented that other office reps had “really got into” the event and that all appreciated the potential support that the creation of effective workplace committees could provide, particularly in terms of delegating workload.

Other feedback has been similarly positive, according to branch secretary Martin, who also pointed to plans to launch regular unit-based newsletters to ensure all members are kept in touch with developments.

“Our verdict is that it was a great success,” he concluded.

“Now we all need to keep up the momentum.”

If you’re interested in becoming a unit rep, or volunteering for a workplace committee, get in touch by contacting their local branch or the field organiser assigned to their branch. Alternatively you can contact Lynn Browne, Senior Organiser Postal Department on lbrowne@cwu.org 07735776364. For more information visit Postal Workplace Organisers.

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