Opinion

Are you the rep we're waiting for?

12 March 2018

Unite’s head of health Sarah Carpenter encourages members to take up the challenge of becoming
a local rep and speaking up for your colleagues.

Every year at conference, we celebrate the work of the Unite-CPHVA reps with our Local Accredited Representative (LAR) of the Year Award. The hard work and commitment of those members who step up to represent their colleagues shines through, and every year picking just a single winner is an almost impossible choice.  

A rep is a vital role in every organisation where there are Unite-CPHVA members – whether within the NHS, local authorities, a social enterprise or a private sector organisation – and you could be perfect for the job. 

So here is some information to help you decide whether you could be the rep that
your colleagues have been waiting for.

What kind of person makes a good rep?

A community nurse already has many of the skills to be an amazing union rep. Reps speak up on behalf of people who need help, encourage and support colleagues, and believe that people should be treated fairly. Sound familiar? Unite has an excellent programme of rep training, so that all the necessary skills and confidence can be built up in a structured way, learning alongside other reps, and with the full support of local regional officers.

What does a rep do?

A workplace rep can support members in many different ways, from being someone to chat concerns through with, to being the voice of the members about workplace changes and representing members in grievances and disciplinary processes. But reps can also specialise in equalities, learning and health and safety, for example. Inevitably, reps find themselves undertaking new challenges, which can be daunting. But as part of the wider Unite family, you will always have someone to turn to for help.

Will my employer support me?

Section 25 of the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook is very clear about the expectations on employers to support union reps – visit bit.ly/section_25 for more details. There will always be a local agreement with your employer, usually as part of the union recognition agreement, that must adhere to the principles set out in Agenda for Change. This states that ‘the expectation is that requests for paid time off for trades union representatives will not be unreasonably refused’ – a very important point.

How can it happen?

All union reps are elected by the members they represent, so contact your local regional office for help with an election process. If you are keen to become a rep, don’t wait to be asked, but maybe speak to someone yourself about whether they think you would be good – perhaps you could even job-share the role.

Who knows? Maybe at CPHVA conference in Bournemouth, that LAR of the Year could be you…


Date for your diaries

30 June 2018

This date will see massive events planned to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS and campaign for the future of the NHS. So far, a march has been announced in central London, but other parts of the UK will also see activity. Keep your eye on unitetheunion.org for more information.

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