Conference backs Scotland strategy on organising in voluntary sector

Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie

#uNDC16 Success in Scotland’s Organising for Growth Strategy will inform a UK wide approach to recruiting, organising and bargaining in the Community and Voluntary Sector as conference yesterday backed a Scotland motion to make this a key priority for UNISON.

Community and Voluntary Sector is a growing part of the delivery of public services and many employers in this sector have little track record or culture of dealing with trade unions.

Moving the motion, Stephen Smellie Depute Scottish Convener said: “We have known for years the challenge of recruiting and organising in the community and voluntary sector, but it is not easy. Branches struggle with facility time to recruit, organise and even to represent members.”

Employees often suffer from poor terms and conditions of employment as well as far from acceptable standards of dignity at work, and poor health and safety standards.
Stephen added: “These organisations are at forefront of austerity cuts in funding and are under pressure.

“In approaching them we sought areas where they could save money such as absence rates, agency costs, the cost of disciplinary and grievance culture, and legal costs when we take them to tribunals and win.

“We have been relentless in pursuing the management and board members, and working closely with members on these issues.”

Conference recognised that there have been many gains in the Community and Voluntary sector including the living wage, and new recognition and procedural agreements, working time directive arrangements and new employment contracts across a range of employers.

Stephen enthused, “In one charity, members had no pay rise for ten years, we secured an agreed job evaluation which resulted in 81% of staff getting a rise and low paid workers received a 34% pay rise.

“Our Organising and Growth strategy has achieved real improvements for members’ terms and conditions and pay, and as hoped for, an increase in recruitment in all five targeted areas.”

Stephen urged conference to make recruiting in, organising with and delivering for workers in the Community and Voluntary sector a UNISON priority, and to develop a UK wide approach to recruiting, organising and bargaining, based on the success of the Scottish model.

By Watty Gaffney
Conference Home