Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Plymouth UNISON branch re-recognised: *LIKES*

Excellent news that Plymouth branch has been re-recognized following a massive campaign of solidarity which lead to hundreds of messages of support.

I'm not the biggest Twitter fan but this was impossible to avoid at the time - the first I'd heard about their de-recognition was via the inspirational Barnet UNISON Branch (who are BIG Tweeters).

There is a long running debate on how best to use new(ish) communications and organising techniques using this new-fanlged inter-webnet thingy.

I think one of the things to note about this campaign was the level of support Plymouth Branch were able to get via social media (they had over 1,121 'Likes' on their FaceBook page - last time I checked) which raised spirits and emboldened the activists involved.

I spoke briefly with a couple of their comrades in Tower Hamlets when we'd successfully prevented the fascist EDL from coming to East London. When I took this photo (above) they asked me to upload it onto my blog/ Facebook and call for support. Thankfully there is no need for support for recognition as that is now won.

Aside from the obvious danger this episode poses for our union - as others who've been banging on about it since before I was even a UNISON member have pointed out - there are surely lessons to be learned about their successful internet campaign too.

At a Development and Organisation (D&O) committee last week (a Sub-Committee of the NEC - try and keep up) we discussed - among other things - the 'virtual branches' project. It's clear some branches aren't really convinced of the need for a local branch website and it doesn't work for everybody.

As I said at the time, though - and followers of this blog will know - I'm a big advocate of internet organizing and very proud of our branch website which has about 3-4 people updating it (none of whom are 'techies') in two different languages, costing very little to set up.

Certainly, as the students' movement has shown last year, virtual organizing and communications are vital in our fast-moving world.

I'm sure the NEC's Young Members officer would agree that if we're going to continue to recruit and engage with the next generation it's crucial we don't allow branches to let this slip. (I noticed also that Young Members recruitment figures fell a bit last month compared to others - could that be a reflection of our focus on pensions?)

And by the way, if you're a Branch Sec and you don't have an email address yet, expect a letter from the union instructing you to get one, 'Sharpish'... as the last NDC changed the rules so that you must now have one (though did we set a deadline on WHEN you must get one by?). Mind you, if you don't have an email, how on earth did you find this blog? Let me know via carrier pigeon.

I look forward to our union winning more campaigns with the help of well orchestrated 'virtual' networks. But as they used to say on 'rise-up' lists:

'Get off the internet - I'll see you in the streets!'

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