UNISON recognises that this is an opportunity to draw in a new group of activists and we provide training for them in their role as ULRs.This is not some sort of pseudo careers adviser but someone who can talk with their colleagues about training and education, who knows and can promote UNISON courses, who knows where to direct people who need information about further education or how to access funding for learning.
Other work can include:
- Encouraging colleagues to join courses such as Return to Learn and supporting them while they are learning
- Helping to identify and highlight the learning needs of people in their workplace
- Raising awareness of lifelong learning issues in their UNISON branch
- Working with the branch to encourage learners into branch activity
- Liaising with employers and experienced branch negotiators on lifelong learning opportunities
in the work place
- Negotiating a learning agreement with your employer
- Working with branch officers especially the branch education officer to promote lifelong learning opportunities See also Rights and Functions of a Union Learning Rep
Lifelong Learning -The Role of the Branch
The easiest way for a branch to get to grips with Lifelong Learning is for experienced branch activists, especially the branch education officer, to liaise directly with ULRs.
They can also target groups of members e.g. Return to Learners and offer them the chance to train as ULRs once they have completed R2L and seen how pleasurable and fulfilling learning can be.
A crucial role for ULRs is to make the link with the bargaining agenda. By using information gathered from colleagues training issues can be raised directly with the employer and linked with existing issues i.e. the Knowledge and Skills Framework.
Information gathered can also be used to begin negotiations with employers on the establishment of a Workplace Learning Agreement that would guarantee equality of access to training for all not just those who already have qualifications.
Regular contact between ULRs and the branch is very important. The great strength of the ULR is their ability to promote education to the very groups that make up the majority of UNISON members but who are in the minority at activist level-low paid, part time, women and ethnic minorities.
As ULRs gain confidence they will be recognised in their workplace as a very positive face of UNISON, bringing positive benefits to the branch and to UNISON in general.