Local contacts making the difference at Manchester

University of Manchester UCU have seen a big upturn in activism over the last year thanks to some fantastic organising and membership engagement. University of Manchester UCU branch organiser Fiona Campbell lets us in on the secrets of their success.

We’d been having difficulties getting members along to branch meetings, which was making things difficult in terms of getting the business done. We need to have 50 members attending in order that we’re quorate and that can sometimes, with members’ work commitments, be can be a really difficult thing to achieve.

So, we really put some work in over the last twelve months and we’ve started to see the benefits – we’ve had six new members join the branch executive committee this year and our local contacts are increasing too. We’re facing the threat of compulsory redundancies here at Manchester, so obviously that will have impacted on our meeting attendances, but we’ve had up to 150 members during the summer which is great news.

So what’s working for us? Here are a few ideas we’d like to share…

We’re all busy, so getting along to a general meeting might not be possible and even the most diligent member won’t find time to read every UCU email! So we’ve been surveying our members – asking their opinion about issues ahead of meetings, in order to raise awareness of issues, increase interest and keep things relevant.

Local Contacts in every building. It’s important not to scare people off, so it’s always good to tell members what’s expected and we’ve narrowed it down to the following duties:
1. If colleagues have a problem or issue refer them to the branch office (this should ALWAYS be top of the list – it’s a relief to them that they won’t be expected to deal with personal cases, believe me!)
2. Speak to your colleagues about joining
3. Keep the information flowing – pass it on to members by distributing our newsletters and posters and keep us informed of any local issues you have.

These are just some ideas but we’re really seeing the benefits. And don’t forget to the use the resources on the Build the Union website – there are some really good ideas there that you can adapt.

Good Luck!