What is a PCS Advocate

A PCS Advocate is someone who, while not choosing to become a fully-fledged rep, is the ‘voice’ of PCS in the workplace. Many good members who turn up to meetings, convince colleagues of the value of PCS and generally encourage others to get involved in union activity, would be well suited to this role. Through a network of advocates, PCS will be able to build its strength and influence in the workplace.

PCS union advocates will allow us to:

  • call on a network of members who can support union activity
  • encourage members to become active in the union
  • develop members’ interests in the union
  • spread the workload of the union
  • identify the union reps of the future so that our democratic structures reflect our membership base
  • use our members’ skills and expertise where we may not previously have been able to do so, for example, in a workplace where there is no rep.

What sort of work would PCS advocates be expected to do?

Advocates may volunteer their time to help with a range of tasks which could include:

  • encouraging other members to attend meetings
  • speaking positively to colleagues about the union and encouraging them to become members
  • handing out PCS leaflets and circulating PCS petitions
  • helping to sign up friends and colleagues to direct debit in areas where check-off has not been removed
  • writing to their MP about a specific issue and asking their friends to write letters
  • supporting PCS campaigns and industrial action
  • offering special expertise to help with branch communications, such as newsletters, website content and design.

Why are we asking members to be PCS advocates?

The advocate role helps to do this as, in general, they will be ordinary members who are able and willing to do a little bit more than just paying subs.

Will PCS Advocates be formal reps?

No, this is a voluntary role that advocates can self-nominate into. Advocates are not elected by members and so are therefore not recognised as ‘formal reps’.

Will advocates be allocated any facility time for this role?

No, the advocate role is outside of the normal rep role, with tasks being carried out in break periods, at workstations or outside work.

I already hold a branch position. Can I also register myself as a PCS Advocate?

No, the PCS advocate role is for members who are not already activists in PCS.

Can distributors be registered as advocates?

Yes they can. This is often the next step for a distributor and is a great position to be in as the branch can potentially get a network of advocates up and running very quickly and use the intelligence the distributor network can and will provide very quickly.

How much time will advocates be expected to commit to union work?

As much time as they feel that they can. If the advocate finds they want to dedicate more time to union work then they can become a workplace representative or branch committee member.

Is there a limit on how many advocates we can have in our branch?

No, the idea is to have as broad a network of advocates as possible to gain as much information and feedback from members as we can.

Do we need to have a PCS Advocate in every workplace in the branch?

Ideally, yes, but not just in every workplace, on every floor and in every team of the workplace. By having a contact in each team then PCS can truly be in constant contact with our members.

Can advocates go on to become union reps?

Yes they can. If a PCS advocate feels that they want to become a rep then they can contact their branch to talk about training and getting nominated as a representative.

Will there be any training available for advocates?

There will be support and guidance that is regularly sent out to advocates to help guide them through the role. If a demand for training exists then we can consider delivering it in workplaces to minimise the impact on the advocate’s working time.

What kind of support and guidance will advocates receive?

A dedicated section of the website will be set up and constantly updated which provides resources and information for advocates, as well as an opportunity to share ideas and stories. Advocates will be sent a regular union bulletin giving tips, ideas and stories about how to get involved. All material will be shared with branches.

Can members register themselves as advocates without the knowledge of the branch?

No, when an advocate registers their interest independently from the branch the relevant branch officer will be contacted so that they can make initial contact.

Can advocates act as tellers or scrutineers?

Yes, they would have to be nominated through the usual process according to PCS rules.

Can advocates put themselves forward for PCS equality forums or attend group and national conference?

Yes, they would have to be nominated through the usual process according to the forum/conference that they are interested in.

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