How UNISON went for growth in Hampshire

Despite all the election talk, you will have noticed that across UNISON, November (and spilling on into December!) was a hugely busy time. As part of the Go For Growth initiative, branches across all the sections of our union were reminding their colleagues of the benefits of being part of the UK’s largest trade union.

In some areas, this meant promoting the learning opportunities available for members. Sue Allan, a Union Learning Rep for Portsmouth City branch explains:  

A learning survey of members and non-members showed that managing stress/confidence building lunch and learn sessions were wanted. When advertised, the response was amazing – and we did not have space for everyone who wanted to attend! Both sessions will be on again in the New Year for people who missed out!

For others, this meant promoting the financial advice available for members via our partnership with Lighthouse Financial Advisors. Tracy Vear from East Hampshire UNISON branch was one of the members who took advantage of the opportunity for a free consultation:

I met with [Lighthouse Financial Advisor] James on the 27th November and specifically was after advice and understanding about my LGPS and a previous pension fund I have. James was so helpful, explained everything so clearly and gave me very sound advice regarding my previous pension. For me it was an incredibly useful half hour which has enabled me to make sense of everything. I hope this is helpful and will encourage other members to take up the offer.

In other branches, Go for Growth meant letting staff know the benefits of joining UNISON. This was particularly important for reps working with employers who had derecognised our union. Jeff Emmerson from East Hampshire UNISON branch braved an early start and freezing rain to get the message out:

With the help of a local organiser, I spoke to potential members and handed out flyers outside the offices of the company I work for. We then attended a local pub at lunchtime the same day to give prospective members a chance to find out more about UNISON

At Fareham branch, promoting UNISON meant drawing attention to the reps who make sure their union is an everyday presence in their work place. Fareham branch secretary Cian Wagstaffe notes:

We organised a #Grovember “Meet Your Rep” event where we had a steward on each floor identified with purple balloons floating above their desks. There were chocolates, biscuits and giveaways to entice staff over and we conducted a membership detail audit at the same time as recruitment.

Keeping membership details up-to-date is a crucial activity that also kept several other branches busy. Part of the benefit of being in UNISON is that you are able to access the information you need when you need it. But our members are busy – many of the services they work in are stretched almost to breaking – and when their contact details change, they don’t always remember to let their union know.

That’s why UNISON branches like Portsmouth City, Portsmouth Health and Hampshire Health ran prize draws – one of the ways to enter was for members to confirm or update their contact details. After all, its hard to make the most of UNISON membership when we can’t get in touch with you! And as Jackie Dolphin, Branch Secretary, Hampshire Health Branch explains, it’s more important than ever to stay an engaged UNISON member:

In the climate of private is good/public health is bad, it’s crucial you remain a member. You never know when your service could be outsourced and you will need support during any consultation. We support you at the start of consultation, attend 1-1’s with you and most importantly, ensure your rights are protected.

Cian agrees:

The more staff within the workplace that are a member of UNISON, the stronger the voice of the union with that employer. It is easier to negotiate when you represent more than 50% of the workforce than if you only represent 10%! If we do not hold a united front, it only weakens our position at the negotiations table. Plus, these days it is impossible to predict if/when you will need support for sickness, disciplinary or redundancy. You don’t insure your house cause you think a storm is coming, you insure it at all times.

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