One of the things I liked most about going on trade union education courses was meeting union representatives from different unions and different workplaces. Even when I did the online TUC diploma course, although we were not in a classroom, the online forums were a great source of information and support. I felt that being able to share experiences meant we got much more out of the training. It also made me look at some issues from a very different perspective.
The problem for many union representatives is that, once they are trained, that interaction stops. It is likely that most of the union activists you know will work in the same workplace, or at least a similar one. Some of you may occasionally go to regional meetings or be a part of a wider branch, but there is no substitute for the informal chats over issues that come up and sharing experience with people from different unions and sectors.
That is why the TUC developed the Unionreps website and mobile app. It gives you the perfect platform to share your experiences. There are over 20,000 union representatives who are registered on the site and they include stewards, health and safety representatives, learning representatives, equality representatives and green representatives, and you can use it either on your computer, or as an app on a phone or tablet.
The biggest selling point for Unionreps is the bulletin boards where you can ask for advice, support other reps and share your thoughts. There are seven topic areas education, learning & skills; equality; law & representation; organising & recruitment; health & safety; Pensions; and Environment. Law and representation and health and safety are the most popular discussion areas where topics range from your rights when offered redeployment to whether flu vaccinations are a good thing. These topics are not answered by “experts” but answered by other ordinary representatives who may have already been through it.
This is a fantastic tool and is an example of the web at its best, based on empowering people and founded clearly on the principle of collective-help. It is not there to make money, or sell anything. Unionreps is a straightforward resource that is there to help you and to enable you to share your experiences and knowledge with others.
As well as having the bulletin boards there are a wide range of resources and events listings. You can also sign up to a regular newsletter than keeps you up to date with what is going on in the trade union world.
I have always thought that Unionreps is indispensable for all union representatives and I am amazed when I find out that a lot do not even know it exists. So if you are one of those that have not tried it out yet, then give it a go and join the online community of union reps or download the app from Google Play or the App Store.