Page 5: Careers and training at UNISON
At the local level, a recent addition has been the role of ‘fighting fund organisers’. Faced with huge cuts to public services, UNISON is recruiting over 100 such fighting fund organisers. These people need to have good analytical and presentation skills. They will undertake an induction training programme which prepares them to go into workplaces and recruit members.
These fighting fund organisers may come from a range of different backgrounds and are central in taking the union in new directions. Their jobs will include using new methods such as social networking to keep in touch with members. New roles such as this are helping UNISON to change its structure to focus more at the local level. This makes the organisation more decentralised.
UNISON is also building clear career paths for organisers. Local fighting fund organisers will recruit members, mentor stewards and help branches to grow. To step up to area level management means more responsibility.
Area officials provide representation for members. They also carry out bargaining with employers. These two activities and experience provide a good launching pad for a regional role. At regional level, jobs involve responsibility for large-scale negotiations, leading projects and managing teams of organisers.
‘There are always new challenges, sometimes outside my comfort zone, but training and support is given for this. It makes me feel good about myself when I have tried something different.’
This career path was designed to provide greater flexibility. It helps the union to direct resources to where they are most needed. When an employer suggests changes that will harm members – such as redundancies or a transfer of services into the private sector – a team of organisers can be on hand to work with the branch, supporting members in their workplace.