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Training works - and not just for boxers

1 May 2012

Colin Savage, Company Council Rep at Amey Consulting had been successfully battling away for members, but signing-up to courses from TSSA's Education Programme massively upped his game.

Boxer

I was told being a Rep is a thankless task. But that’s actually not at all true. I don’t get a round of applause everywhere I go, but I have earned the respect of my colleagues and managers for the work I have done on their behalf. The other common phrase is ‘you will not make a difference’ – I have, and working with other like- minded Reps we have made a huge impact. Where my workmates have to wait and see what happens, I am involved in shaping the things that affect us all.

We ran a successful collective bargaining campaign to widen our agreement to include many more workers and doubled our membership whilst doing so! We didn’t just do well, we punched way above our weight and defied the odds. In the run-up to this campaign I reluctantly attended a course on mapping and research. Weird as it may be, I actually enjoyed it. Doing the research to find out about members and potential members may be a bit like stalking, but our mapping played a big part in our success.

The part of my Reps duties which I really hated was representing members at disciplinary hearings. I once had a very bad result, which put a cloud over something I had previously enjoyed as a way of making life better for friends and workmates. Before this I had always found a reason to not attend any of the many training courses offered by TSSA. I could always read up all I needed to know or somehow would muddle through. Well, the bad experience caused me to rethink how effective I really was. I took a chance and signed up for my first course, ‘IRR introduction’.

After one day my main thought was ‘why the hell haven’t I done this earlier’. So with my boiler stoked I signed up for the next course – ‘Dealing with members issues’ – my arch enemy. Having an instructor with years of hands-on experienced, coupled with the input of the other Reps, gave me new perspectives, better knowledge and rebuilt confidence. In the films, Rocky trained on raw meat – unknown to me, my training was about to get put to the test: within days I was handed two disciplinaries, due to be heard on the same day, both of which had the potential to end in summary dismissals.

Pen and papers in hand, I prayed to the gods of the union reps, John Major and Edwina Curry. Yes I know... I was worried, so made a poor choice of deities. Thankfully it was the only poor choice as the training kicked in – I would have made Perry Mason proud! The guys I represented received a verbal warning.

Since then my newfound knowledge has allowed me to apply pressure to resolve a long running grievance that the bosses appeared to be in no hurry to sort. Done and dusted! You think that ring scares me now? Hit the bell and see who jumps in the ring first!

You want to eat thunder and spit lightening bolts too? Then be a Rep, get trained and above all, have fun!

 

Education and organising programme

TSSA’S Education Programme give opportunities for reps, members and branch officers to further develop the skills as informed and confident advocates for their fellow members.

These courses will take place in the coming months. For more information about any of these, or to find our more about TSSA’s education programme in general, contact Adele Potten-Price on 020 7529 8323 / education@tssa.org.uk

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