A NEW STRATEGY FOR MEMBERSHIP GROWTH
The purpose of this LTB is to advise branches that on the 28th February the NEC agreed a document setting out a new union wide approach to recruitment and organising.
The new approach is in line with the terms of Motion 50 agreed at last year’s general conference and is also a response to the growing need for the CWU to influence the sector our members work in and a wider world of work characterised by insecure, low cost employment models.
Whilst introducing significant changes, the new approach also recognises that a detailed strategy will take time to develop as part of an evolving process that will necessitate the whole Union working together in a very different and more collaborative way. This means there has to be a genuine willingness to think and work beyond constituency boundaries and harness the strengths and expertise that exists across the union. It also means that there has to be a real understanding that when it comes to the wider sector, the postal and T&FS constituencies start from very different places and the approach going forward will reflect this.
The key elements of the new approach are set out below:
- Investment in a new Head of Recruitment and Organising to develop, oversee and manage a new strategy on a day to day basis.
- The development of the detailed strategy to be supported by a new Recruitment and Organising Board comprising of the following – a Head of R&O, GS, SDGS, DGS (P), DGS (T), Head of Comms, Head of Research, and Head of Legal Services.
- A realignment of postal organisers to work within the wider postal sector and target new companies.
- The T&FS to continue with its current approach alongside improved reporting to the NEC and a clearer understanding going forward of the work within the sector that will be the responsibility of the central strategy team. This to be reviewed in 12 months against agreed criteria.
- Improved reporting and analysis of all membership data.
- The organisers to be utilised in a more flexible way to support targeted campaigns within the unions overall strategy.
- Given the increased profile of the CWU and our innovative communications approach, the Head of Communications will undertake a review of all R&O materials to strengthen the CWU identity and brand.
- Linking our recruitment and organising work to the CWUs and TUCs campaign on a New Deal for Workers.
- The overall strategy to be coordinated around the following three areas:
*The main companies
*The wider communication and financial services sectors
*Digital platforms/New World of Work/Gig economy
- A process to evaluate the work of our existing organisers.
- A major national event later this year to launch the new strategy.
- Greater clarity on the role of our new regional structure and branches in supporting recruitment and organising work. This to include a 2 way process to enable the widest possible opportunity for Regions and branches to input their ideas.
- A comprehensive communications plan to explain the new approach and the reasons for this to our representatives and members.
- The introduction of clear and transparent targets to measure the success or otherwise of our campaigns.
- Agreed timelines to ensure we monitor progress and deliver on what has been agreed.
- The SDGS to produce a plan on the investment required to support the new strategy as part of the redesign project, including a full breakdown of our existing expenditure in this area to maximise the effectiveness of this.
THE CONTEXT THE CWU NOW OPERATES WITHIN
The “Organising for the Future” booklet published to Branches last year clearly set out the major challenges we face and the wider context we are operating within. The importance of the whole union grasping this wider context simply cannot be ignored or overstated.
Firstly, alongside the fact we have lost almost 100k members since the 1995 merger, is the stark reality, in both constituencies, that our membership remains overwhelmingly in companies that arise out of the old General Post Office. In postal, less than 1% of our members come from outside of RM, POL, or the island operators. In Telecoms and Financial Services, whilst the membership is more diverse, more than 85% of our members are in BT, Santander, O2 (formally in BT) and EE (now part of the BT Group).
Secondly, in contrast to our decline, the wider communications sector has seen major growth in a non-unionised workforce, exploited by the emergence of new companies that rely mostly on insecure and low cost employment models.
Thirdly, we rightly pride ourselves on being the strongest UK workplace trade union and for years and years we have set the high benchmark on pay, terms and conditions across the sector. But we know this is a constant battle against the race to the bottom, something which our members have become increasingly aware of. Therefore, as these pressures grow, signs of which are clear in both the RMG and BT right now, the only way we will ultimately maintain our own industrial strength is by being at the forefront of a wider fight to reverse membership decline and organise workers across the sector. This is also exactly the same debate and thinking that represents the only chance to reverse the fortunes of the wider trade union movement in society.
The truth is, taking on this fight by throwing the full weight of the union behind a fresh strategy, is the very essence of trade unionism and the core value of what the movement exists for.
In the last few years the union has worked hard through Redesign to finally tackle the issues that threaten the future of the CWU, the wider trade union movement and that are shaping the world of work in a very detrimental way.
We have set a clear direction for the union that has been overwhelmingly supported by Conference. On one hand, this has been about getting even closer to our frontline reps and members to ensure that protecting and enhancing their terms and conditions will always be at the heart of everything the CWU stands for. On the other hand, it has been about expanding and connecting the above thinking to the growing pressures that all workers face as a direct result of the political and economic forces that stand in our way.
The direction we have set is both challenging and ambitious in that it means we are serious about mobilising to rebuild the trade union movement, improve the lives of our members and all workers and to work towards fundamental political change.
Finally, whilst all branches will understand that there are no easy solutions to drive membership growth, we are confident that by working together in a more joined up way, we will ensure the CWU builds a more effective recruitment and organising strategy.
Further information on the New Strategy for Membership Growth will be sent to Branches in due course.
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