Nearly 150 members recently completed a survey giving their views on the support Camden Unison has provided them. In summary the feedback was generally very positive, but there is learning for us as a branch, and it does also highlight the need for us to have more members step forward to become reps and be more involved in the union. More detail below
Most members rated support from their UNISON rep highly, with 64% describing it as very good or excellent, a further 11% as good and only 16% as poor.
Opinions on the quality of support provided did differ depending on the issue. For example members seeking support with health and safety issues gave an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, whereas members seeking support with performance issues gave an average rating of 3 out of 5.
So the branch is looking at our training needs and whether additional training can be provided for reps in some areas. Although we are limited in what we can achieve an individual cases by the law. And with these examples, health and safety regulations are much stronger than employment legal protections regarding performance.
We also received more detailed feedback about what we do well, and what we can improve on.
In terms of what we do well, here are a selection of member comments about their rep:
- She asked all the right questions and made all the relevant points when I was too upset to answer.
- They were passionate about the issue and were knowledgeable about relevant procedures
- The rep had expert knowledge of the specific process we were going through. In meetings with management of our old and new employers he handled the situation superbly – with great tact and diplomacy but most importantly with a great sense of authority. He made them sit up and take notice – pay due attention to the process and secured an excellent financial outcome for all staff. Absolutely no criticism of anything he did.
- I was on a long term sick, in pain and feeling a bit isolated, despite getting good support from several colleagues. I was also angry at how I was being treated by my new manager. The support I got from Unison meant loads – meeting with my rep to talk about my appeal, but also discovering what a lovely person he was. He gave me full information about my rights and what I can (and can’t) expect, which all made me feel better when going to the appeal. I also felt stronger because I wasn’t on my own. My union rep represented my case at the appeal in a very rational way, he was friendly and calm, but also determined to fight my corner. The support I got from Camden Unison definitely contributed to my recovery and I am very grateful for it.
- Great advice by email and in person. Attended meetings with me. Challenged unfair actions and decisions made. Nothing was too much trouble. I felt fully supported with realistic advice. Although outcome didn’t go my way I survived the process and live to fight another day!
In terms of what we could do better, some comments were conflicting. For example one member stated that reps were bullying managers, and another stated that reps were too friendly with management. In general though most comments were from members wanting more reps, or reps responding to them more quickly by email or over the phone.
We completely understand these concerns, although our reps are all volunteers, and many of us are very overstretched, balancing our demanding day jobs with our union duties. So we would like more members to volunteer to become reps – we can provide you with full support and training. And we would like members to know that if you are having problems with your rep not getting back to you, you should contact your departmental convenor in the first instance, or the branch office if your rep is a convenor. Finally our reps are elected by the members, so if you are unhappy with your rep you can step forwards either to job share with them or run against them in an election.
If you are interested in becoming a rep, you can speak to your local convenor for more information and fill in this form to make it official.