Organising means that members identify workplace issues that matter to them and work to solve them together with TSSA staff.
In practical terms this is achieved by ensuring that new members are being recruited continually and, once recruited, are encouraged to become actively involved with the union.
Reps and branch officers are in the ideal position to encourage more members to take part in TSSA activities.
- Map your workplace for the best results
- Keep members informed
- Work with your branch
A good organising strategy can be to draw up a 'map' of your workplace. This means identifying all employees within one section, shift or location, preparing their profile (e.g. information about gender, age, hours, pay etc) and mapping who is and is not a TSSA member.
This will give you a clear picture of TSSA's presence in your workplace and where to concentrate your recruitment and campaigning activities.
Keeping members informed and involved
In a small department or team, the simplest way of keeping in touch can be face to face. You could try to find somewhere at work, or nearby, where you can hold informal meetings to tell members what's going on and listen to any concerns they have. Alternatively, you could arrange to visit different groups of members on a regular basis.
You won't be able to do everything by yourself so try to motivate other members to help you.
Colleagues may well not want to become activists straight away – but they may be quite willing to help you with smaller practical tasks: informing others in their section about a meeting; putting up notices; getting a room ready for a meeting for example.
By getting involved in small ways, people start to identify with TSSA and more likely to agree to further participation at a later date.
Integrating organising and recruitment activities
The most commonly stated reason why people haven't joined a union is simply because no-one asked them. So, when you are out and about talking to colleagues on union-related matters, make sure you find who the non-members are and ask them to join.
People are most likely to join their union when they can see the positive changes that it is achieving.
At times, you may want to limit the information you give to members only, especially when you are getting feedback or taking a vote over whether to accept or reject proposals that change working conditions.
But, at other times, take the opportunity to trumpet the successes of the union – using noticeboards or circulating newsletters. Remember that, the more members the union has, the more powerful it will be in negotiations.
Working with your branch
In your role as rep, you are acting on behalf of the members in your own workplace or company, but you are also a part of TSSA's wider democratic structure.
Every member who joins TSSA is allocated to a branch. Branches either cover members from one particular company or grade, or members from a particular geographical area.
Branches elect officers to run their activities. This happens once each year at the branch annual general meeting. The officers you are most likely to need to work with are the correspondence secretary and the organising secretary. Your branch will probably also have local organisers.
All members of the branch are entitled and encouraged to attend regular branch meetings. There will usually be a slot on the branch agenda for reports from reps. If you would like to become actively involved in the running of your branch, the branch is entitled to appoint you to the branch committee.
Branches send delegates to Divisional Councils where they meet people from other branches in the region. Branches also send delegates to TSSA's Annual conference, which decides the union's policies and rules. Members in each Divisional Council area elect a member of the Executive Committee to represent them.
Why work with your branch?
There are two very good reasons for you to keep in regular contact with your branch.
First, branches are a good source of support, financial resources and assistance. Second, it's a very good way of making sure that your members' views and your experiences as a rep influence TSSA's policies and the way the union is run.
Try to attend as many branch meetings as you can. If this is difficult, find time to talk to the relevant branch officers by phone. You will find branch meetings a useful way to meet other reps and compare notes.