Wales & South West membership on the up!
The introduction of GMB@WORK within the region has turned around the region’s membership levels and brought a fresh impetus to GMB activities across the region.
GMB@WORK (a Congress Report in 2006) sees organising and campaigning in the workplace on issues of real concern to workers as the best way to build union membership and therefore, strengthen the union at work. In the Wales & South West region we have created a Regional Organising Department which is focussing entirely on building the union, enrolling new members and securing new reps and contacts in our target areas. As a consequence, GMB membership is growing and a trend of decline has been reversed. GMB reps are now provided with training, support and encouragement like never before as our organisers, working with the regional education department, roll out GMB@WORK training to ensure all our reps are equipped to build the union in the workplace.
The Five 'C's
Effective workplace organisation has five main elements summed up as The Five 'C's:
GMB must always have a 'claim' on the negotiating table and adopt a pro-active approach in every workplace and with every employer.
GMB must ensure that everyone at work knows we exist and what we are campaigning for.
GMB reps in each workplace should know who is joining and who is leaving, who is a member and who is not and use this information to talk to potential members regularly about the union's work.
In every workplace and sector there must be a clear and credible industrial strategy. Members must know where to go to and who to contact where they work if they need help, advice or representation. As much servicing of members as possible should be done by GMB reps at work and our training must remain focussed on providing them with the skills needed.
Everyone at work should see the GMB as being part of the workplace and in it for the long term. It is not about selling the union to potential members, but to explain where GMB stands on the issues where they work, why they should join and what they can do to support us.
If you want more details on the GMB@Work agenda in your workplace, please contact your full time officer or, if you have any recruitment leads, contact Mervyn Burnett, Regional Organising Department, GMB, firstname.lastname@example.org
GMB@WORK - Our Vision
Our future is about Choice not Chance. We can have a million GMB members by 2020 if we choose to. The biggest threat to GMB’s future is complacency. With the dogma of austerity and permanent recession hitting working people hard, it’s easier for us to build GMB today than it was for Will Thorne. Our core purpose - our job - is to help our members build their collective power to make a difference at work. Personal legal, financial and representation services have taken us as far as they can in membership growth. Membership growth becomes everyone’s job. To seize the opportunities to grow GMB that are thrown up every day where our members work.
GMB@WORK - The Story so far
GMB@WORK was adopted in 2005 and is 8 years old this Congress. We have grown by over 20% in that time in real terms. We are now growing at a rate of 1.5% - making us one of the fastest growing unions in the UK today, exceeding all of our expectations. We have achieved much but operate on a constant tightrope to maintain growth. GMB@WORK has given us the flexibility to adapt quickly and effectively to fast changing times. Collective responsibility and holding each other to account at all levels in the union have become part of the way we work. Shrugging our shoulders and managing decline is a thing of the past in GMB. Our members deserve better than passing the buck and the blame for decline. GMB@WORK is permanent change. It’s not just for Congress The political and economic climate has worsened since 2005 presenting us with new opportunities as well as challenges. We plan for the worst case - the Tories in power for years to come. No Government will come to our rescue, but we organise and campaign for the best case - the return of a Labour Government worthy of the name. GMB has not stood still since 2005 and organises an increasingly diverse group of working people and in new ways. • 45% of new members join GMB on line, • 80% of our members work in service industries, • almost half of our members are women, • 1 in 5 GMB members work in a school. These members demand and expect what GMB members always have - A strong and high profile union where they work producing results they can see and feel. GMB has done exceptionally well but we have the potential to do better still. We will remove obstacles to the evolution of GMB@WORK to exploit every new opportunity for growth rather than re-inventing the wheel or launching a new policy every Congress. Our next steps are to build on our achievements so far:
GMB@WORK - Next Steps Using Bargaining to Organise
We can only build the GMB from the bottom up not the top down. The aspirations and actions of our members in their own workplace should have a greater role within a more flexible approach to national bargaining. "The best that can be achieved through negotiation" is a well worn and over-used phrase that lacks credibility with members who may not feel they have been directly involved in negotiations in the first place.. Every negotiation with every employer has the potential to help us build GMB.
Giving GMB back to the members
To enable members to take more control of the GMB agenda where they work, a significant increase in the number of workplace newsletters is required. More help will be provided to Workplace Organisers in establishing workplace newsletters, in getting post training support from GMB officials, and assistance in submitting their own workplace claims for improvements in pay and conditions Back to Basics. How we measure performance matters. We will adopt performance measures that reflect our core purpose. As well as focussing on recruitment figures we will measure our organising work in three new ways:
• improvements in GMB structures
• the impact on members pay, hours and working conditions
• overall membership growth
GMB members use the schools, hospitals, Sure Start centres and libraries that are being shut by the Coalition. They buy fuel, shop at ASDA and hope their children find work and leave home. We will invite our members to get involved in community campaigns in their local area against austerity as a means to help them build GMB organisation where they work. Community campaigns are built around action. Community action provides a solid training ground for GMB members to develop leadership skills and make a difference where they live as well as where they work.
Holding each other to account across the union has worked for GMB and ensures we keep focussed on our core purpose, more will be done to examine how Branches, Regions and National Office work to keep each other focussed and hold each other to account on membership growth
Adapting to members needs
We will better fit our organisation around the needs of today’s GMB members:
• We will more quickly connect on line joiners with Branch and workplace representatives
• We will improve retention by implementing a programme to convert potential leavers to direct debit before they leave work
• We will allow Branches to develop new ways to engage members working in small isolated workplaces such as Academy schools.
National Organising Department Congress 2012.