There now follows a series of blog articles based on my notes and activities at GMB Congress 22, they are tagged as such. I was a delegate from my Branch, and thus part of the London Region delegation. The first motion we had to move was M66 on the Union training programme.

Our key demand is that they unbundle the H&S reps from the workplace organiser training. The current training is 30 days on block release and without facility time an onerous commitment and while it can be spread over several years this relies on someone staying at the same place for long enough.

Our key insight is that we can get the Union in the door via H&S, it only takes two people, it takes 50% of the work force to win a recognition dispute.

We asked for a CEC i.e. national review of the training programme, but even this the CEC asked for refer and will probably dump this on the Regions which isn’t really what we wanted. I asked the Regional delegation to ask fora better recommendation, but they didn’t want to.

I said,

President, Congress, Dave Levy, London Central General

We have a very disparate branch, we have as far as we know over 250 work places with an average membership/workplace of under 5. Making reps is hard and this motion asks for an easier to complete training programme.

This motion is not designed to be a criticism of current provision or of personell onvolved in training delivery, it is meant to be an expression of insight from our branches unusual but not unquie organisational structure.

Our organisational problem is workplace communication and  yet to be a recognised rep. one needs to take 20 days of training in four five day chunks; our members find it hard since most do not have facility agreements, this can only be done on annual or unpaid leave. The block release requirement is also likely to be difficult for low paid and those with caring responsibility. The most recent graduate of the training programme did it over two years, not exactly quick. I recognise that we are relying on an independent certification for our training programmes, a significant constraint on programme design, but maybe we shouldn’t.

Our organisational issues are compounded by the Union’s requirement that we will not train or recognise H&S reps only. To force management to set up a H&S committee, we need two people; to win a recognition agreement we need 50% of the workforce. Our failure to create accredited H&S reps means we are missing a trick.

We are convinced that the high training barrier to entry to becoming a rep is an inhibition to organisation success and that we can do better.

We also believe that the high training barrier to entry may discriminate against women and disabled members. In this post Monaghan world, again we should look to do better. If you’re not a rep, you are likely to be considered unsuitable to stand for the Regional Council which is a further gateway to positions of leadership in the Union.

This motion asks the CEC to look at our training strategies and programmes and to make them more suitable for the modern, nomadic work force, to make them more family friendly, easier to provide a work life balance and to split the training and accreditation for our H&S reps and Workplace organisers.

I am disappointed that this motion was not marked as support with qualification which given their comments they could easily have done, we are not proscribing an answer here;  the CEC will ask us to refer and we agree.

The motion said,

M66 Training of workplace reps and health and safety reps

Congress believes that the current model of training carried out by the GMB in developing new work place reps is over reliant on block release and is no longer appropriate to cater for the challenges of the modern workforce.

The GMB reps curriculum is 20 days or more, and this is a burden to members  without facility time and is a disproportionate burden on those with family commitments more usually women.

Workers who are able to take paid time off in the private sector to attend training are very rare indeed. Many of our organised workplaces do not have adequate facility time agreements.

We require training that caters for this group of workers alongside workers in the gig economy and all patterns of work.

This could include evenings, weekends and the use of technology used so successfully during the pandemic.

Congress calls on the CEC to carry out an urgent and thorough review and then implement the changes required to enable all our members the opportunities to become trained reps and ambassadors of our GMB union at work.

GMB Congress 22 and training of reps.
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