The August recruitment figures were the best in 10 years. August was traditionally a difficult month for recruitment.
One of the Assistant General Secretaries did a presentation on the November 2018 recruitment campaign (now called Grovember). It was the union’s 25th birthday – it should be used as an opportunity to grow membership. There were slides on the reasons people join the union. These may partly be down to Geography (e.g. North West, North East, Scotland where there are higher levels of Trade Unionism), family background (other family members are already members of a Trade Union), smaller percentages joining where members are more politically driven. Online joiners were now more than 70%. The join online process had been quickened so it now took 3 minutes on average to join online rather than 6 minutes. The union had been doing Marketing and advertising to support on the ground recruitment and get to hard to reach groups. Branches were a fundamental part of the recruitment strategy. For 4 weeks in November we were to push the boat out. The aim would be to recruit a member for each activist giving 20,000 new members. We owed it to the care workers working 40 to 50 hours a week for a pittance or the young people in call centres on Zero Hours contracts with no toilet or lunch breaks who had to be in a union. Every conversation would build our strength. NEC members commented this was always a worthwhile discussion to have on how to maximise recruitment and for there to be a boost from the centre - the reasons members join could be one or a combination of reasons cited. Small things could help recruitment e.g. a branch producing a ‘Your rights at work’ card you could put in your wallet or purse for isolated workplaces with no access to a rep. Another NEC member gave an example where a branch in his Region (East Dunbartonshire) had had a spike in recruitment as a result of a campaign of industrial action to protect member’s terms and conditions.
Learning and Organising activity – John Jones from the North West stated we struggled to recruit Union Learning reps compared to stewards and Health and Safety reps. There were ongoing issues the union was having at Ruskin College, Oxford which had previously been a bastion of Trade Unionism but was developing into a business under the current principal.
A new co-branded E careers website had been launched offering UNISON members a discount on a range of online courses.
5 new workshops had been commissioned with the WEA: Be safe online, Family History, Study skills, and Introductions to return to learn and Women’s lives.
Continued development of the RMS (UNISON membership system) – On retention of current members a welcome phone call (had the member received a pack, was all OK?) had been shown to have improved retention. It was noted equalities data was not on the membership form. This was not a requirement of joining under GDPR (General Data Protection regulations). WARMS elearning had been updated.
Concern was expressed about Branches using Outlook calendar to invite for General Membership meetings. The union had discouraged this as it could compromise GDPR. In response to a question Branch activists meetings invites (Branch Committee meetings) do not breach these regulations.
200 Branch Secretaries don’t have access to WARMS (Web Access RMS) – access will be provided automatically and if they wish only to access membership reports they only have to complete 3 Elearning modules rather than the complete set.
75 Subject access requests had been put in already in 2018.The fee had gone for this and there was more awareness of GDPR from members which had been in the news for a month every day (in May 2018).
Branches under Regional supervision – There were none in the North West. Regional Convenors comments on reports now have to be submitted to D&O committee.
Turn out in SGE (Service Group Executive) internal UNISON elections had increased as a result of electronic voting. ERS (Electoral Reform Services) had recommended that wherever allowable the union should consider an online voting option to increase participation.
A number of honorary life membership awards were approved.