Representing members: union reps training enters exciting new areas

The nature of representing our members has changed over recent years. Vital though they are and always will be, it’s no longer just about the issues that we previously considered as the ‘traditional’ trade union business of pay, terms and conditions.

PCS now supports reps with training and guidance in helping members with an array of important social, personal and health issues that affect their rights and welfare at work.

These relatively new topics include neurodiversity, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, cancer, trans equality, menopause, and mental health.

They are all key trade union issues, which can form the basis of key bargaining demands with employers and topics to campaign on with our members.

PCS Academy – the union’s education programme for potential, new and experienced reps and advocates – has just released a new prospectus, detailing all of these courses as well as our recently refreshed core reps and advocates training, bitesize sessions and courses on specific skills and issues.

These newer, very popular, courses are:
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS: (2 days): Giving the knowledge and confidence to help members, challenge employers and campaign in the workplace. More than a quarter of sickness absence in the civil service is due to mental health conditions.

NEURODIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE (2 stages - 2 days each): Raising awareness that we all know someone with an identifiable neuro-atypical condition such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia, and that workplaces and wider society can cause difficulties for them.

TRANS EQUALITY (2 days): Covering the issues faced by trans colleagues and providing an introduction to the legalities involved.

DOMESTIC ABUSE AWARENESS (2 days): Providing a better understanding of the issues, in order to consider, understand and support members experiencing domestic abuse and violence.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT (1 day): Explaining what the law says and how to support members, develop practices and policies and challenge workplace cultures. Also discussing organising around equality and promoting harassment champions.

MENOPAUSE IN THE WORKPLACE (1 day): Creating greater awareness of the menopause as a workplace issue – looking at the symptoms women can experience, and workplace factors that may negatively impact on workers experiencing the menopause.

CANCER IN THE WORKPLACE (1 day): Exploring the issues faced if a member or close relative is diagnosed with cancer, including rights to time off. Each year in the UK, 90,000 people of working age receive a cancer diagnosis.

These courses form part of an overall re-shaping of our education programme, which is now much more holistic.

As part of that culture change, we are explicitly widening the remit of our traditional approach to casework so that we also have a focus on collectivising individual issues - and working to resolve these issues through collective action and campaigning.  

This means always being on the lookout for avenues to negotiate with the employer, for the benefit of all members, and understanding the importance of communication with members – including the use of new technologies – to winning.

For course dates and registration contact your regional office:

Cymru/ Wales  

Eastern region  

Midlands region  

London and south east

Northern region

North West region  


South West  

Yorkshire and Humberside

Updated 11 Febuary 2019

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