TRAINING FOR GMB WORKPLACE ORGANISERS
GMB provides a wide range of training courses to help new and existing Workplace Organisers gain the skills and confidence they need to do the job for GMB where they work.
By agreeing to become a GMB Workplace Organiser; we know you are committed to growing your union in your workplace, and that overtime, with the support of your Officer and the members you represent, and with dedicated training, you will further develop your knowledge, skills and confidence in the job.
Experience tells us that the best way to learn the job of GMB Workplace Organiser is not in the classroom but by doing it in the workplace and that's why our training is deliberately designed to be 'on the job'.
INITIAL SUPPORT TRAINING
Shortly after you first become a GMB Workplace Organiser you will be contacted by the GMB Officer responsible for supporting you and the members where you work, who will give you your Initial Support Training. This will provide you with:
1. Details of GMB membership where you work.
2. A GMB Representatives badge and official credentials.
3. Copies of the recognition agreement between GMB and your employer.
4. A copy of this tool kit.
5. A copy of GMB@Work Notice Board tool kit.
6. A briefing on the current industrial issues where you work.
7. Contact details for other GMB Workplace Organisers where you work.
8. Contact details for your local GMB office and specialist GMB support staff in the Legal, Health and Safety and Training Departments.
9. Your first job as a new GMB Workplace Organiser: To introduce yourself to all those who work in your section, find out who is not in the union and make a list.
10. Preparation for your first training course - GMB@Work: Workplace Organisation course.
Whether you are starting as a Union Learning Representative (ULR), Health and Safety Representative or GMB Shop Steward, within a few weeks of completing your Initial Support Training (IST) and once you have had an opportunity to complete your initial work as a new GMB Workplace Organiser you will be invited to attend a two day course during work time at a nearby location.
This course starts with the information you have gathered since your IST about whose working around you. It helps you turn this information into your own 'Map' of your work place, which will, overtime, become your most valuable tool for building the union and representing members where you work.
The course also covers issues such as:
how to approach potential members;
how to keep your members informed and involved with the union and; understanding the union's relations with your employer.
The course ends with GMB Workplace Organisers being assisted to draw up their own first organising plan for where they work, which will be copied to their GMB Organiser for further support advice and assistance.
GMB BASIC TRAINING
Shortly after completing the GMB@Work course and after you have had an opportunity to put your first plan into practice with your GMB Officer, you will be invited to attend the first of the basic training courses again in work time and again at a location as near to where you work as possible.
Having put in place a good organising plan where you work, based on a detailed workplace map that you will continually update, the next key role of a GMB Workplace Organiser in the workplace is to ensure all members get the best and most immediate advice, information and representation you can give.
As someone who works with your members, facing the same problems alongside them, for most issues that come up you will be the best person to help and advise them. Your GMB Officer will offer any back up and support you need-but you and your fellow GMB Workplace Organisers will be the first point of contact for GMB members where you work.
This training will provide you with all the knowledge, skills and confidence you need to start to take on the job of representing your members individually with managers on personal grievances and disciplinary hearings and collectively on pay talks and other discussions with your employer.
GMB ADVANCED TRAINING
GMB Regional Offices also offer advanced training for GMB Workplace Organisers as they develop their skills further in the role. The first of these is training to become a fully accredited Safety Representative. We encourage all our Workplace Organisers to take this course.
Workplace industrial relations.
Advanced organisation skills.
Bargaining and communication skills.
Contact your GMB Organiser for more details of how you can find out what courses are on offer locally and how you can get onto these courses.
All of our courses are of course free to GMB representatives and carried out in normal working time. Your employer will give you time off to attend and will normally pay your wages during the course. You will need, of course, to notify your employer of any courses you have been invited to attend during work-time.
BUILDS GMB'S STRENGTH
The strength of the union in negotiations depends on its strength in the workplace. GMB's goal is for 100 per cent workplace membership. It is difficult to claim to represent the workforce if both you and the employer know that many workers are not in the union. A GMB Workplace Organiser is always looking out for opportunities to increase the membership and make the union stronger.
COMMUNICATES AND INFORMS
You are the key point of contact between the union and its members so it's important that you attend branch meetings to keep the union informed about members' concerns and to keep your members up to date about union initiatives and campaigns. Your key tasks are to talk to your members, distribute your workplace newsletter and maintain workplace notice boards.
Members look to their reps for knowledge, experience and guidance. They will turn to you when they have a problem, or feel they are being unfairly treated. In general the issues on which union workplace organisers spend most time are health and safety matters and the way employees are treated by management.
You are the voice of the members in your workplace when dealing with the employer on issues that affect them and their working conditions. Sometimes you may be helping an individual member, such as one facing disciplinary action. At other times you may be meeting management on behalf of your members collectively.
SOLVES PROBLEMS IN THE WORKPLACE
The role of a workplace organiser these days consists of promoting fairness at work, bargaining for better conditions, as well as helping to resolve problems, deal with difficulties that arise in the workplace and tackling health and safety issues.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO THE JOB
This toolkit is designed to allow you to keep all the information you will need in one place.
This can include whatever information you think it is useful to keep, minutes of meetings with management or, GMB Branch information for example. As a starting point you will need:
GMB Workplace Organiser's Tool kit.
List of union members where you work.
Membership application forms.
Contact information for financial and other benefits of membership.
GMB Officers' names and contact details, phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses.
A list of GMB training courses and dates.
GMB Rule Book.
GMB Union Representatives credentials.
Employer policies on grievance and disciplinary hearings.
Your employer's staff hand book.
GMB@Work Notice board Pack.
Your own workplace map.
Current GMB Law at Work book.
Contact details for the managers you deal with.
Details of the current recognition agreement with your employer.
Records of grievances and disciplinary hearings you are dealing with.
Model grievance, disciplinary and failure to agree letters.
Current workplace newsletters.
Model workplace newsletters.
Current GMB policies and campaigns, source GMB website www.gmb.org.uk
Legal advice on time off work for GMB Workplace Organisers (see section 1.3).
YOUR RIGHTS AS A GMB WORKPLACE ORGANISER
ADVISORY, CONCILIATION & ARBITRATION SERVICE (ACAS) CODES OF PRACTICE
The ACAS codes provide a minimum of legal rights for GMB workplace organisers. Your recognition and facilities agreement with your employer should give you at least these rights but GMB aims for much more.
TIME OFF AND THE FACILITIES TO CARRY OUT YOUR DUTIES
To do your union work,you will need time and resources. The usual term for this is 'facilities: Some workplaces have 'facilities agreements' as part oftheir GMB Recognition Agreement which provide for paid time offfor union duties and use of equipment and facilities for union work. Ask your Branch Secretary or GMB Officer for details of your facilities agreement and decide whether you need to demand more facilities from your employer.
Where GMB membership is strong enough, the union should have its own private office, equipped with telephone, desk, chair, filing cabinet, or personal computer and reasonable amounts of stationery. If this is not possible there should be an agreement covering the use ofthese things for union purposes. This should include the use ofthe postal arrangements, internal distribution system, e-mail system, personal computers and printers, fax machine and access to a photocopier.
You should first ask for a noticeboard to display notices of meetings and other union publicity and time off and facilities to produce and distribute your workplace newsletter.
TIME OFF FOR GMB DUTIES
Time off arrangements make it possible foryou to play your part in building workplace organisation. If your employer recognises GMB for collective bargaining you have legal rights to reasonable time off during working hours for trade union duties, including training, under section 168 and169 ofthe Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation (TU LRC) Act 1992.- _
Paid time off should cover:
All meetings with the employer.
Meetings with new employees for recruitment purposes.
Meetings with other trade union representatives.
GMB training courses.
Attending industrial conferences and committee meetings away from your workplace. Accompanying a worker to a grievance or disciplinary hearing.
TIME OFF FOR TRAINING
Section 178 (2) ofthe TULRC act 1992 gives union representatives the right to reasonable time off work fortraining. Rememberthatyou should ensure that your employeris given 'reasonable notice' when you want time off for training, if possible a minimum of six weeks. Some employers prefer to agree time off fortraining on a yearly basis. They can plan for release over twelve months far more easily.
Good agreements on release are undermined when course places are cancelled without good reason or adequate notice. It's important that you don't cancel your place at the last moment, as this creates problems forthe course organisers. Challenge your employer ifthey try to get you to cancel a course because of work pressures:
GMB Learning Representatives also have rights to time off work to undertake their role and undergo relevant training. Ask your GMB Officer for details.
Safety Representatives also have rights to paid time offfor carrying out their responsibilities and attending approved union training under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Act 1977They have the right to paid time off to conduct safety inspections in the workplace.
ACAS Codes of Practice are not legally enforceable, but they can be cited as evidence at an employment tribunal and the tribunal is required to take into account any provision ofthe Code that appears to be relevant.
ACAS Codes of Practice are available from your GMB Officer. You will also get information on them on GMB training courses.
RESOURCES FOR COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Representatives of recognised trade unions are entitled to receive information for collective bargaining purposes as defined in section 181 ofthe 1992 Trade Union Labour Relations Consolidation Act. More details can be found in the ACAS Code of Practice 2 booklet on 'Disclosure of information to trade unions for collective bargaining purposes' which is available free from the ACAS website.
When formulating a payclaim,you may find it useful to look at the LRD PayLine database.All GMB members have free access to this and the website contains examples oftrade union agreements across all sectors. You will be able to compare your company against others in the industry on topics such as pay rates, hours, holidays etc. Contact your GMB Officer for your user id and password (www.lrd.org.uk/payline).