PCS Advocates can help create a ‘union culture’

The urgent need for a systematic approach to involving more activists in the union has become even more clear since the statutory pay ballot this summer.

So PCS is taking steps to further define and promote the role of PCS Advocates, who are key to winning a ballot next time, and essential to the long-term ‘building, growing, winning’ strategy of the union.

As it’s an informal, flexible role, there are many ways to utilise and benefit from it. But ultimately Advocates are about having more people around to help us all engage with members and potential members, to create well-organised workplaces, and to foster a confident ‘union culture’ where people feel proud of, and take part in, their union.

What’s new?

A new handbook for Advocates and potential Advocates.
The booklet, due out in November, includes advice on how to help build a strong union at work, with plenty of visibility and regular activities, including informal social gatherings as well as union meetings, petitions or events.

It also includes tips on recruiting new members, and covers equality, health and safety and union learning.

The handbook makes it clear that the Advocate role is informal and flexible, depending on the member and the local workplace situation. Advocates should be encouraged to do what they feel comfortable with rather than expected to meet a pre-determined standard of activity.

Suggestions are made on ‘serious’ and more light-hearted ways to deal with issues – for example, a weekly collective ‘union lunch’ could start addressing concerns over a lack of adequate lunch breaks, while building a positive ‘union culture’.

Bite-sized training for new and potential Advocates
PCS Academy has produced guidance notes for training, to be delivered in branches and/or regions, on how members can play an important role in the union as a workplace Advocate and what a feeling of group identity and ‘union culture’ could mean for them and their colleagues.

Programmes of activity for Advocates
The PCS Organising team is developing a rolling six-month programme of activity around events like Adult Learning Week, Equal Pay Day, Workers Memorial Day, Black History Month and so on. With the help of support materials, Advocates will be encouraged to plan workplace activities around them, from collecting signatures on a petition to hosting a discussion on the subject. This will help Advocates get talking to members, build a network and generate a sense of union identity at work.

We will also help develop the skills of Advocates so they can devise their own local initiatives.

PCS Advocates: pcs.org.uk/advocate

Updated 23 October 2018

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