Nearly 540 people joined or rejoined Camden UNISON last year, making 2014 the single best year for recruitment since 2006 when the branch saw 570 join its ranks. The figures for 2014 are all the more remarkable in the light of the continued decline in employment across the lead employer, Camden Council, which still accounts for some 75% of total branch membership. Camden’s current workforce is about 15% smaller than in 2010.
Of course, no single factor explains our relative success, but there’s little doubt that the branch’s high profile campaigning around the National Joint Council pay dispute was a key driver, reflected by a peak month in the immediate run-up to the 10 July strike. Indeed, the recruitment figures over an 11-year period show a strong relationship between national action over pay and pensions and branch growth. In three of the four years when recruitment topped the 500 mark there were national strikes.
The London Living Wage campaign among Caterlink workers providing meals in Camden community and Voluntary Aided schools was another important factor, with the branch’s membership among these workers more than trebling over the course of 2014. The imminent closure of the Council’s two remaining residential care homes and the transfer of another 50 workers to Shaw Healthcare also spurred people to join Camden UNISON.
With the next round of restructures and job cuts across the Council already underway maintaining high levels of recruitment will be a challenge, but the first quarter of 2015 showed encouraging results with 138 joining the branch. More than ever it’s vitally important to be a member of Camden UNISON if you work for the Council or one of its outsourced contracts, both for advice and representation, and to be part of a branch that will be central to any campaign to halt the massive cuts hitting public service workers’ jobs and living standards.
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