The ‘Problem-Information-Plan’ approach is one way of tackling issues systematically – there are others which you may prefer to use.
These questions should provide you with a starting point to think about issues. Think carefully about how far you should progress an issue and when you need to seek advice from or, in some cases, hand it over to a more experienced branch official or a full time officer. Remember that you can gather much of the background information before you decide whether to pass the issue on.
- What is the real problem?
- What are the most important facts?
- Have you interviewed the people concerned? Should you?
- It is a personal problem?
- Is there an individual problem or does it affect other members?
- Is it an underlying reason for the problem that needs to be dealt with?
- Can it be settled locally?
- What other information do you need to help you deal with the case (from management, the member or other union reps)?
- Have you interviewed the member and any other people involved?
- Is there anything in your agreements that might help?
- Is there custom and practice that might help?
- Is there any precedent?
- What are the member’s legal rights?
- Are there any union policies that might help?
- What other advice can you get and from whom?
- How do you plan to deal with the issue?
- What sort of problem is it?
- Is it an individual case or do you need to involve other workers? If you do need to involve other members how could you go about doing it?
- Can you deal with the problem locally or is the problem related to national agreements?
- Is it urgent and does it need to be raised with management straight away? Who should do this?
- Which level of management do you need to go to?
- Can you deal with the problem informally?
- Who else do you need to involve? Other reps, branch officers or the full-time official?
- What are your aims / objectives? (should be agreed with member)
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the case?
- What will management’s arguments?