Thursday, 6 November 2014

Supporting Our Activists

The Organising and Membership Committee this morning received a report from the Health and Safety Working Group about lay officer stress.  We put a proposal, from the working group, for the Executive to give "urgent consideration to implementing practical, preventative measures to support lay officers experiencing stress related to their role".
The proposal, which was agreed by the full Executive, committed the Union to measures to prevent the accumulation of stress on lay officers including:
  1. Supporting divisions by building more effective teams of officers so that individuals are not isolated when dealing with case work;
  2. The provision of training for local officers on the effective management of associations including handling casework; and
  3. The provision of regional/Wales office and organiser team support to assist lay officers in team building, effective use of resources and succession planning.
I contributed fully to the discussion of the committee, drawing particularly about our experience of team-building in Oxfordshire.  I reiterated the view that it is only through building an effective team of activists that we can ensure the pressures of case work, and indeed other areas of Union activity, do not fall on the shoulders of a small group of people (or indeed a single person in many cases).

This was counterposed to the views of some that paid officials have a role in 'managing' the workload of elected local officers.  Ultimately, the solution to having too few, overworked activists can only be to build our activist base.

It is here that the Union's shift to a more member-focused, organising approach is key.  I firmly believe that the solution lies in engaging our members more fully in the work of the Union.

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