Increasing the number of PCS Advocates is a hugely important part of our drive to build higher participation in the union and improve diversity among activists.
More urgently, it’s also a key part of our plans to be ready for a potential statutory ballot on pay this year. Union Advocates can be given practical tasks to help with the pay campaign and to support union building in their workplaces.
This year’s organising strategy, which will be discussed at PCS conference in May, proposes an ambitious target of increasing the number of Union Advocates to 10,000 by 2020.
Achieving it will need a lot of dedication from activists, members and staff, and a rolling programme has now begun, to start working towards that goal:
- Branch organisers are being surveyed on their experiences, for example by asking whether Advocates have been integrated into branch activity. If you haven’t responded yet, please do so as soon as possible.
- In the coming weeks we will survey existing Advocates for feedback on their experience of the role. If you are an Advocate, please get involved, we want to hear from you.
- We will then be making direct appeals to members asking them to ‘step up’ and sign up as a Union Advocate. We’ll want to ensure that someone from PCS has a face-to-face discussion with anyone who says they are interested.
What can activists do to help?
- Make sure all Branch Organisers, in conjunction with BECs and activists, respond to the online Advocate survey.
- Encourage members to become Advocates, and support new and potential Advocates when they express an interest.
- Make an action plan for recruiting and supporting Advocates at your branch meeting.
- Use the materials, that will be available in your workplace, to advertise how to become an Advocate.
- Set new Advocates tasks and small projects to assist the branch in getting ‘ballot ready’ – handing out leaflets, getting members to meetings, recruiting new members, talking about the union and the pay campaign to colleagues at work.
What is a Union Advocate?
The Advocate role allows members to get involved in union activity without necessarily becoming a fully-fledged rep (although hundreds do go on to become reps).
Advocates are another ‘voice’ of PCS in the workplace. As they haven’t previously been active in PCS, they can expect to receive support and encouragement from their branch and from the national union.
It’s a particularly good entry point for sections of the membership that are currently underrepresented in our structures.
The role also allows branches to spread the load of union work, recruitment activity and communicating with members.
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