How we beat the ballot threshold: DWP Stockport and Tame Valley branch

Branch secretary Paul Guinnane says every one of their sites had a turnout of at least 70% of the vote in the 2018 ballot, and this time they have already reached nearly 90%: “We have just over 600 members in the branch. They are always engaged but that comes down to the fact that we talk to them all the time, we don’t just wait for a ballot to come around or some big piece of work to arise. Then it doesn’t take much for them to do what we need when it comes round to a ballot.

And we don’t just leaflet. We do that at the start but then the rest of the time we concentrate on actually speaking to the members – just asking them those two simple questions…have you received your ballot paper, and have you voted? After those two questions we know where to go next – whether it’s to help them get replacements, or whether it’s to contact them in the next couple of days and see if they have returned their ballot paper.

The branch app has been really useful. On top of that we’ve always keep lists and a spreadsheet, where we mark these members off, so we know who we’ve spoken to and we don’t waste our time going back to the same people.

We started off with manual spreadsheets before we knew the app was going to land, and we’ve used them before with great effect, but also it’s a good back up as it gives us just a little bit more accuracy.

In areas where a few people haven’t voted – and we’ve often found that’s where the rep isn’t as visible because, for example, they are not sat at that side of the building – we just make sure we go round and find time to have a chat with each of them.

Most of the time they are very engaged with the pay ballot, but they might just not have told anybody they’ve voted, or they didn’t know what to do next because they didn’t have their ballot paper, so it’s important to have the conversation.

We also put out messages and updates via our Facebook page. We’ve not needed to do a lot of personal messaging en masse, but it’s certainly something we’d explore.

We are quite lucky because we have a couple of reps in each office. At our biggest site, which is our contact centre, we’ve got three reps and about 5 or 6 Advocates.

We are always trying to recruit new reps and Advocates.  We took on a lot of those people in the last year because we realised that with more and more campaigns we needed those extra voices speaking for members on a regular basis.

I know it’s not always easy, for geographical reasons, but if you can get face-to-face contact it’s the best way to reach people. It might involve standing outside the office for a couple of hours in the morning or at lunchtime, but get them as they walk in, ask them those two questions and you’ll find that gets real results.

I think it’s crucial – speak to the members and don’t just leaflet because that’s not enough.”

Watch Paul's video

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