The TUC has launched a major new survey of workplace union reps.
We want to find out who our reps are, the work they do and the support they need to deliver for the union members they represent.
When union members are asked what makes their union relevant and effective, the presence of union reps in their workplace is often a key factor.
This isn’t surprising given that reps are the people who deal with the nitty-gritty of trade union activity daily.
After all, the model of workers supporting and representing each other at their place of work speaks to one of the core principles of trade unionism.
So given their importance, our survey addresses three key challenges in making sure the workplace rep model continues to deliver for workers in the future.
1. Supporting and training reps so they remain effective
We want reps to tell us what support they get, what they need, the subjects they want to learn more about and how and where they want to access training, information and support.
We have a duty to anyone who steps up to take a more active role in their union to make it as easy as possible to get the skills they need to be effective.
As with union organising and campaigning, the growth of digital technology presents the movement with a huge opportunity to scale up union education and make it adaptable to the needs of reps – not just in terms of what we deliver, but in how and when they can access learning.
This also applies to the training that we can offer to union staff, our officers and organisers.
2. Increasing the number of reps and active members
There are approximately 130,000 union reps in the UK, which means that over the last ten years we have lost around 10,000 reps.
That’s a big loss in terms of our capacity to represent members effectively.
3. Finding a new generat ion of activists
We need to convince those with most their working lives ahead of them to become reps, so we can better reflect the diversity of the movement and the members we represent.
The last Workplace Employment Relations Survey warned that we will lost over half of our reps over the next 10 to 15 years. We cannot allow this to happen.
Our reps survey will help the TUC and unions to learn how to meet this ‘next generation’ challenge.
Simply telling existing younger members to ‘get active’ isn’t working.
So it’s time to mobilise our existing reps – the 130,000 who’ve dedicated so much of their working lives to the movement – and appeal to their desire to ensure their union continues to be represented once they’ve retired.
We want to hear from reps right across the movement, so we ask that all TUC affiliates support us in making sure as many reps as possible see and complete the survey.
What we learn will be shared with unions and form the basis for a new programme of work across the TUC – including TUC Education – to make sure that we provide accessible and relevant support to reps so they can keep on helping members and building stronger unions.
If you're a rep, please complete our survey now: https://www.tuc.org.uk/repsurvey
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