Posted on 26 February, 2017 in Organising, Workplace Reps

Building blocks of a strong union

Building blocks of a strong union

In Term 1 we ask all our sub-branches (workplaces) to elect representatives. Here’s what you need to know about being a workplace rep. 

Why should I be a sub-branch rep?

Every union is only as strong as the sum of its parts. Which means high membership levels, a well -run union office and most importantly a Rep in every workplace.

Having a sub-branch rep in your workplace is the best way to ensure members stay connected with their union. Branch Officers also need a point of contact to know what is happening in each school so they can best represent all members.

What do I need to do?

  • Encourage all eligible staff to join their union.
  • Offer support and advice to AEU members at your workplace.
  • Hold regular meetings (at least one 1 per term) and keep minutes. Forward these to AEU office.
  • Liaise with the AEU office to help keep membership details accurate.
  • Distribute AEU information when requested either by email, noticeboard or in staff pigeonholes.
  • Liaise with management to ensure staff concerns as formally addressed.
  • Establish a working relationship between yourself and the management. A good practice is to set up regular meetings times with your Principal or Manager

Can I access training and resources?

Yes, the AEU NT offers training courses for sub-branch reps. We also publish many resources that are available on the website.

About sub-branch meetings

These provide members with a democratic forum to raise concerns at the workplace level. We understand that workplaces are busy and that there are often many meetings to attend.

Whilst you should aim to meet at least once per term, it is best to have a reason to have the meeting and try to circulate an agenda. It is also advisable to arrange a time to meet when the maximum number of members can attend.

Establishing a quorum to pass motions is a majority of members if your workplace has under 10 members. If your workplace has over 10 members then it needs to be 30% of members.

What are my rights as a sub-branch delegate?

We understand that taking on such a role is a concern for some people. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against you or take any adverse action if you are raising legitimate concerns about issues affecting members in the workplace.

The Fair Work Act provides protections for all employees such as the freedom to join a union. There are also protections in the NT Anti-Discrimination Act and as part of being employed by the NT public service. The Commissioner of Public Employment (OCPE) has issued guidelines relating to the rights of union delegates [PDF].

How do I address problems in the workplace?

If a problem arises, begin by gathering as much information in writing about the problem including what avenues have been exhausted already. Then address this concern at your regular meetings with the Principal or Manager. If you are unable to resolve the matter in your regular meetings, refer the matter to the AEU office. Remember it is better not to give advice than to provide incorrect information.

How can I help disseminate information?

You should ensure that a union notice board exists in a prominent place in the staffroom. The AEU NT office will send information such as the Territory Educator to your school and as the sub-branch rep you can ensure this info is circulated to members.

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