(24 June 2020) On 18 June 20 trade union activists and officers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey took part in a webinar on organizing and recruitment. It was third online meeting prepared and run by the EPSU’s recruitment and organising team.
The main inputs came from Greg Thomson, former head of strategic organising at UNISON in the UK and EPSU’s recruitment and organising team – Miloš Vlaisavljevic and Agnieszka Ghinararu.
The webinar aimed to answer affiliates’ needs to find new and improved ways to reach out members and non-members in order to organize them in the current crisis. The discussion focused on the unprecedented challenges facing working people as a result of the pandemic with individual health and wellbeing at risk from the virus as well as economic and social welfare hit by a global economic downturn unlike anything seen since the great depression in the 1930s.
The discussion focused on how trade unions need to take new initiatives when face-to-face meetings and gatherings are still restricted, with some limitations likely to stay with the possibility of further outbreaks. For example, if unions cannot organize protest actions on bigger scale with physical participation of people maybe a COVID-19-safe car rally is a solution? What about mass social media actions - mass postings on a Facebook page, twitter, e-mails, phone calls or online petitions.
There is also the possibility of using existing (or creating new) trade union Facebook pages, web sites, twitter accounts, etc. The webinar discussed tips on creating lively, interactive Facebook pages with practical information such as union responses to COVID-19 in order to reach out to union members and as a first step to recruit non-members. Another easy thing to do would be to put a short guide online covering the main steps in organizing workers around health and safety issues.
The webinar discussions underlined the fact that that social media initiatives are only additional (or in present situation of social distancing – substitutes) to face-to-face meetings, being on the ground with workers, listening to them and mobilizing them.
As with the first two webinars, most participants were from the health sector, with others coming from public administration, state institutions, public services, construction and water supply. The participants were from the following unions: OSZSP CR and OS ECHO (Czech Republic); ECHOZ, ZOZZASS and OZ KOVO (Slovakia); Water Supply Union of Podkrepa (Bulgaria); YOL-IS; HAK-IS and GENEL-IS (Turkey).