EPSU-ETUI recruitment and organisation seminar, January 2007

(30 January 2007) Leaders from health care, local and central government, municipal services, water and energy (electricity and gas) trade unions met to share experience on recruitment and organizing. The challenge of organizing workers is common to all unions. Europe's trade union membership has been dropping dramatically and union density in many sectors has declined. The participants of 14 unions discussed the reasons why workers do not join unions and what the obstacles are to join. Allan Kerr, the head of recruitment and organizing took the leadership through the European challenge for trade unions and the Unison (UK) experience and its targets. Working with local trade unions, mapping the work place, issue based organizing, workers to take ownership and responsibility of issues and then solving these issues.

The participants worked on mapping an existing work place where they are trying to organize the workers. In an engaging and creative session many ideas were shared and actions designed to increase membership. Another part of the seminar was planning an issue based organizing and recruitment campaign in the work place, based on nthe map of the work place. Lizanne Devonport, of Unison's learning and organizing, discussed the various elements of a campaign including that the issue based campaign:
- Should have a good change of success
- Is widely felt and shared by workers (relevant for most workers)
- Be deeply felt (workers are strongly committed to addressing and solving the issue)
- Involves members and potential members
- Be worth the effort
- Be easily understood
- Be consistent with the union's values, priorities and strategic plans

Participants also addressed Change Management and resistance to change in implementing an organizing model in the trade union with Allan Kerr.

The EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan underlined the need for unions to increase membership to build union strength in the different sectors. The ETUC Petition for Public Services is “an inspiring way for leadership, local trade union leaders and activists to connect with members and non-members at the work place and demonstrate that public service workers all over Europe work together to promote high quality public services:”

Jean-Claude Ledouaron, trainer of ETUI-Education moderated the seminar. The seminar was organised by ETUI-Education and EPSU, 26-28 January 2007, Budapest. The unions came from Bulgaria, Hungary and Roumania. An earlier seminar involved unions from the Baltic countries, Poland and the Czech and Slovak Republics.