UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Organising in a cold climate

Austerity has taken a heavy toll on public services in the UK. 800,000 jobs lost and rising, unprecedented cuts in central government funding and a tsunami of outsourcing/privatisation. In the face of this offensive how best should unions deploy organising resources to maintain union strength and revitalise the activist base? A recent study 'Contemporary union organising in the UK - back to the future?' examines these questions and highlights the inevitable tensions between boosting new member recruitment levels and deeper organising to strengthen workplace organisation. However (much like the false dichotomy of the earlier servicing versus organising debate) recruitment and deep organising are not mutually exclusive and can be integral to each other provided a short term, exclusively numbers centred approach is avoided (especially given the risk of creating a 'union of strangers with members dependent on remote representation from full time officers' as mentioned in the study's conclusion):