Organizing, recruiting and retaining workers seminar in Belgrade with a focus on women organizing

(23 February 2017)  More than 30 participants from 5 countries from EPSU’s South-East and Central European Constituencies came together to exchange on recruitment, retention and organizing strategies. Richard Pond (EPSU policy officer) reminded the objective of the project, how EPSU identified affiliated unions in the health and social services sector to be trained on campaigning, organizing and recuitment. FNV supported this project throughout the process with the help of Eddy Stam.

Geraldine O’Brien, Assistant Secretary General of IMPACT and Greg Thomson, Head of Strategic Organizing of UNISON were invited to share their organizing expertise and strategies of their unions how to effectively recruit and organize. What both identified as the main challenge in their unions was how to retain workers. Greg Thomson, Head of Strategic Organizing of UNISON emphasized the need to knowing your membership, identifying your common values, having comparable data and go forward with strategic plannning. Geraldine O’Brien, Assistant Secretary General explained how her union had tried to bring in more women into trade unions and how they  had trained women through a leadership programme, to bring more women into trade union leadership positions. She also illustrated that through an examples with a successful organizing campaign on child care workers. She also mentioned that your campaigning strategy must fulfil broader social policy objectives not only to mobilize your workforce but to convince the general public about the necessity in improving working conditions.

The Hungarian Culture Workers Union (KKDSZ) and Crèche Workers Union BDDSZ, Romanian Sanitas and Serbian TUHSCW presented the outcomes of the support they had received from EPSU and FNV. All four unions had made some good steps foward in the reflection how their unions could recruit more members. Very visible was the fact that all four unions had chosen very different approaches how to mobilize and activiate their membership either though campaigning, collective bargaining, smaller strike actions or mobilizing activists on the ground.

Christine Jakob, EPSU Policy Officer Gender Equality informed EPSU’s affilates in that region what steps EPSU had taken to activiate women in EPSU with a principle of proportional representation in their structures, through monitoring of female participation and gender-mainstreaming.

Richard Pond, presented concluding documents with information on how to build your effective organizing strategy, which had been translated into Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, and Romanian.

In the concluding discussion how to follow-up this project the ensuing points were made:

  • To continue to follow-up this project with possilbity of twinning trade unions in this regions and other EPSU regions
  • Language training
  • How to connect with younger, older, handicapped or migrant workers
  • Strategic planning and organizing skills
  • Collecting robust and comparable membership data
  • How to put demands on governments over pay and collective bargaining
  • How to get insight over your external environment in which trade unions operate locally (geo-political, legal, economic environment)


  • Richard Pond from EPSU Opening Organizing, recruiting and retaining workers seminar in Belgrade 2017.02.21
  • Hungarian Culture Unions KKDSZ at Organizing, recruiting and retaining workers seminar in Belgrade 2017.02.21
  • Hungarian Crèche Workers Union BDDSZ at Organizing, recruiting and retaining workers seminar in Belgrade 2017.02.21
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