BARGAINING TO ORGANISE
Bargaining to Organise means making sure we see recruitment, representation and retention of members not as separate activities, but the three essential parts of good workplace organisation. We shouldn't ‘sell’ GMB like a product but use GMB pay talks, grievances and negotiations with management to build GMB.
Our members look to GMB to protect the pay and terms and conditions of work they have and then to improve them. This is done by being as strong in members and in organisation as GMB can be in every workplace.
- Recruiting new GMB members builds GMB which supports GMB bargaining and negotiations.
- In turn, GMB's bargaining and negotiations support GMB's efforts to recruit, organise and build GMB further. Bargaining to Organise involves a number of key elements which you should adopt at work:
- Every agreement with management should be put to a ballot of members, with non members getting a vote if they join.
- Letting everyone affected by negotiations know the union's position and keeping them updated. Making sure every part of your workplace and every group of workers is covered by a GMB Workplace Organiser.
- Making sure high profile 'members only' meetings are held at work but making sure non members are invited to come along and join 'at the door:
- Asking for volunteers from GMB members to update notice boards and distribute GMB information on the negotiations where they work.
- Making sure the results of successful disciplinary and grievance hearings are publicised widely. If necessary, slowing down negotiations with management to make sure the greatest possible numbers of members are involved in supporting the GMB's position.
- Looking for every and any opportunity to build the union through our bargaining and representing of members, including surveys, mass meetings and one to one discussions.
- Making sure that at all times GMB has a claim on the table for discussion with the employer and making sure GM B sets the agenda where you work not the employer.
COLLECTIVE BARGAININGYour most basic role as a GMB Workplace Organiser is to represent your members’ views in the workplace to the employer. On collective issues like a pay claim, health and safety, or responding to contract changes proposed by the employer, you will be speaking on behalf of all your members.
Non GMB members will also benefit however and the Golden Rule of collective representation is 'The more members you speak on behalf of the better deal you will often get’. Use the collective process to reach out to potential GMB members recruit and organise them and use this to strengthen your collective process.
YOUR RECOGNITION AGREEMENTA trade union is 'recognised' by an employer when it negotiates agreements with employers and other terms and conditions of employment on behalf of a group of workers, defined as the 'bargaining unit: This process is known as 'collective bargaining'.
Every recognition agreement between an employer and GMB is different to take into account local issues.
However each agreement is simply a reflection of the strength of the union where you work. Whether you are covered by long standing national agreements as in Local Government or by single workplace agreements, you should check with your GMB Officer and local management that you have at least the following in your agreement and agree a plan to enforce it.
Facilities to consult your members on issues during working time, including a meeting space and time off with pay for all concerned.
- Time off with pay for GMB representatives to advise individual members and represent them at grievance and disciplinary hearings.
- Time off with pay for GMB training.
- Access to office equipment to write and print your workplace newsletter.
- A notice board in each work site controlled by GMB.
- Regular information about new staff about to start work.
- Regular information about existing staff about to leave work.
- An agreed grievance and disciplinary procedure.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING GUIDELINES
1. Always make sure every member has had a say in deciding what GMB's position is. Give yourself time to do this properly but always consult your members before putting a union view to management. On a pay claim for example, hold several meetings for members and include a survey form in your workplace newsletter asking for their view.
2. Make sure you let all your members know after you have met with management exactly what is happening.
3. Always make sure your members hear about the latest negotiations from GMB first and not from their employer, using your workplace newsletters.
4. Always remember: A collective negotiation with your employer should be done openly and publicly and is a great time to attract new members to GMB.
5. Avoid private or 'off the record' discussions with managers, as a rule of thumb any meeting your employer suggests that you would be embarrassed to tell your members about should be avoided.
6. GMB policy is that no deal can be signed with an employer until all the GMB members affected have been balloted. You do not have the authority to reach an agreement without consulting the members you represent.
7. Avoid pressure from your employer to settle negotiations quickly, in many discussions our members benefit from a longer process. A longer process also gives you the time you need to use the consultation process to recruit and organise and make GMB stronger.
8. Always have a claim on the table, for improved pay, shorter hours, a safer working environment or whatever your members are concerned about. You may also wish to include general issues such as pensions, training and equality.
As a representative of GMB you come under the jurisdiction of your GMB Regional Committee. You are obliged by GMB's rules to abide by the democratically agreed policy of the union. If you are in any doubt as to the effect of GMB policy on any situation that you face in your capacity as a workplace representative you should consult your Branch Secretary or GMB Officer.
It is possible that even a new GMB Workplace Organiser will become involved in the negotiations affecting the pay and conditions of the members you represent. So it is vital that you understand in general terms how this is done.
There are some general rules on the conduct of negotiations, which you should understand before you enter negotiations for the first time. You may be doing this as part of a committee with other GMB representatives and quite possibly representatives from other unions.
Discuss any concerns you have with your GMB Officer or other GMB Representatives before negotiations start.
Your GMB Officer may also be involved in negotiations with management but will always be on hand to advice you.
Section 181 of the 1992 Trade Union Labour Relations Consolidation Act gives you the right to information from the employer for the purposes of collective.
Part of your role is to take up problems at work that groups of your members, or possibly the entire membership have that are not connected with the collective bargaining process.
Such problems should be dealt with through the same grievance procedure that you would use in individual cases. You should tackle them in the same methodical way that you would when preparing an individual case and always follow every step of the procedure.
MAKE YOUR COMPLAINT YOUR MANAGEMENT'S PROBLEMSubmit a collective grievance letter in the same way as for an individual member and demand a meeting. Remember a collective grievance is the best way to make sure your complaint becomes your employer’s problem and not just a GMB members' problem.
Note:Make sure that you involve as many people as possible in solving a problem and use your workplace newsletter to tell everyone in the workplace that you have taken the issue up. In this way, when you get a problem solved everyone knows that it was pressure from GMB that got things done.
FAILURE TO AGREEMake it clear to management if you are not satisfied with their response. Clearly register a failure to agree and tell management that you intend to invoke the next stage of the procedure. Let your GMB officer know about this failure to agree and seek advice on how to record this formally with your employer.
STATUS QUOBest practice, which you should try to obtain, is known as 'status quo’. This is important in collective grievances.
Status quo means that while the issue is a matter of dispute the situation remains as it was before the problem arose. It is covered by clause three of the general principles of the model GMB Recognition and Procedure agreement. If you don't have the 'status quo' in your agreement contact your Branch Secretary or GMB Officer.