Tuesday, 30 July 2013

IWGB: Two small unions?

Why on earth would a small union with a few cleaners split to form an ever smaller union when their slogan is 'One Big Union'? One day it is the IWW, next they’re called the ‘IWGB’ (yes, really). 
Why would that union, which had built a reputation of 'organising the unorganised', suddenly become focused on recruiting members of other unions such as UNISON? In TUC affiliated unions we call it 'poaching' of workers who are already in a union, and it's generally agreed it's not on.  

Recently the Senate House branch of UNISON have lost a number of members to their union in a sorry story which only made the employers and the apparatchiks happy. I got in a discussion about it and some people suggested I write up my own experience of the IWGB and their forerunners in the IWW. I've decided, a year after the events to publish the short and the long version here.

To summarise, the IWW (as they were then) had a London-based cleaners section; some of them lost their jobs at a contractor, got themselves transferred to London Met Uni (where we had already won the Living Wage); they claimed this has a 'victory' of their own; as activists I approached them, invited them to a meeting, and welcomed them, offering to work together but things didn't work out. Instead they split and tried to bring cleaners with them, but failed. Their leading activist made some pernicious accusations against me and the London Met branch - of racism, and management opportunism and all the rest – in the process and even claimed credit for organising the cleaners at London Met.

In the IWW they had something called 'dual carders' which meant you could be a member of the IWW and join another union (eg the UCU) and operate in both. Sounds like a kind of faction within a union which is fair enough on paper. In my experience though - and I complained about this to both Chris Ford and to Alberto Durango at the time - all this meant, in reality at London Met, was the IWW were on a permanent recruitment drive (giving out membership forms to all our cleaners in UNISON, even in our own offices!) – amongst unionised workers.

When their rep joined UNISON we were delighted - we thought: an active trade unionist who will have experience she can share and help to build the cleaners organisation. She then left the day before her subs were due to be deducted. She had by then already attended a Branch Committee meeting by invitation, and was subscribed to an email discussion list for all activists of our branch.  

She then made some wild claims about us, denounced us as this and that and declared she was leaving UNISON. Her attempt to bring others with her failed though as it was badly misjudged. Our reputation had already been secured after a demo we called to save one of our cleaners successfully saw him reinstated with full back-pay.  I get ahead of myself – start at the beginning…

Same goals? 
I tried to work with some of the people who went on to split from the IWW to form the IWGB ('two small unions') – it was a total nightmare. Of all the things that happened at London Met Uni in 2012, the attack on our branch from another ‘union’ was the most spiteful I had to put up with. As fighting trade unionists, you have to expect - to some extent - the union to be attacked by the employer (asI found out recently to my cost), by the Government, and to be held back and tied down by officialdom... but being attacked by another 'union' at the same time? FFS.

I tried working with what became the IWGB with good intentions, hoping to build bridges of solidarity because I mistakenly thought we had the same goals. In response I got insults from their reps; wasted time attempting to resolve ‘misunderstandings’ as a result of their reps spreading lies; had to cancel 'joint' meetings due to their reps being completely unreliable; members of our union were then sent text messages denouncing me and our reps, spreading lies and misinformation about the way our branch operates; we politely requested for their persistent attempts to poach our members to stop; deliberate undermining of our work and constant wasting of our time; slurs against me personally that amount to calling me a xenophobic management stooge; and to top it all off they absurdly claimed credit for organising the cleaners at London Met telling workers in UNISON we had made no efforts to organise them until the IWW came along (when the reverse is true). 

The (behind our) back story
The only reason the IWW had a small handful of members at London Met Uni was because we'd won the Living Wage and they transferred from another site; they accepted a deal at a different site by the same cleaning contractor, who offered them redeployment to London Met (behind our backs, so in effect in collusion with the employer). They claimed this at the time as a total 'victory' without going into the uncomfortable details here:

Did you notice they forgot to mention the transfer to London Met Uni (the ‘single site’)? I noticed that too.
We found about this after the event not from the IWW but from our own research and management blew their cover – they knew exactly how many members they had because they’d transferred them over. Chris Ford - who I introduced myself to when I attended one of their demos and even spoke on their platform in support of their action about London Met winning the Living wage at one of their rallies - forgot to mention it. Instead we found this out in a meeting with management who asked, surprised that Alberto Durango turned up (late, btw) – almost as surprised as we were: ‘Why is he here?! They’ve only got five members!’ Talk about wasting time and talk about embarrassing too.

‘Almost unheard of’ … don’t believe the hype
Chris Ford, alongside the now infamous Alberto Durgano soon fell out with the IWW, as they had done with Unite years before (see here for some lengthy discussion about the origins of this split - let me know if you can get to the end). When I emailed him to try to resolve our conflict at London Met he was way too busy leading a strike for the Living Wage at John Lewis (they settled for much less than the Living Wage). In his founding statement of the IWGB, Ford refers to that partial success after a day or two on strike with the classic line:

“These achievements are not minor – they are almost unheard of in the current period of austerity."

If that is not hyper-bollocks then my name is Jim Larkin. At the same time of the John Lewis cleaners’ 9% pay rise (not to be sniffed at, but well short of the LW), a dispute up the road which Camden Local Govt UNISON Branch-organised, parking inspectors won a commitment to the Living Wage, staggered over two years. This followed several days of strike action and a ballot for indefinite action... The workers stood firm on all fronts and won a result. Yet a modest announcement from Branch Secretary, George Binette read:

“The long-running dispute between some 170 Camden UNISON members working on the local authority's parking enforcement contract with the privateer NSL finally end late last week. While the outcome was hardly a decisive victory and the balance sheet is decidedly mixed, the workers concerned have at least secured a 10% rise over the course of the next two and a half years on their very low basic rates of pay and will be earning more than the London Living Wage with effect from 01 September this year.”

Another UNISON Branch nearby at the time – er, Senate House, to be precise – had recently secured a Living Wage commitment (not to mention back pay for unpaid over time and a recognition agreement to boot). If you talk to those who lead the split from Senate House though this was all won simply by ‘the workers’, completely re-writing history to hide the fact that in the right circumstances, on occasion UNISON can and does deliver. And for the record, I supported their unofficial action by putting my neck on the line here.

So much for the laughable ‘almost unheard of’ claim: others had been winning the Living Wage elsewhere and to be quite honest, with an employer like John Lewis? Talk about open goal missed.

London Met UNISON win the Living Wage
London Met also won the Living Wage in early 2011 following a campaign in 2010, despite the cuts we faced then. Anyway, at the time of one of their ‘almost unheard of’, ‘total victories’ for the cleaners in Dynamiq, Chris Ford was a lecturer at London Met (an Hourly Paid Lecturer). Back in those days (2010-11), anyone who was around at the time will assure you he played no positive role in our campaign to win the Living Wage at all (fair enough – we’re all busy dong own thing). The local UCU, the Students Union and even London Citizens supported our campaign. Even Maurice Glasman, when he was about to become a ‘Lord’ and was also a lecturer at London Met at the time - as well as a leading Citizens’ big wig – played his role (the subject of another blog post, maybe).

The IWW cleaners branch on the other hand just appeared on our campus on the back of our success. Soon enough they tried to split our members away from UNISON to the ‘IWW’ after we'd spent two years of hard graft building relationships of trust and slowly getting organised, in very difficult conditions. Incidentally one of their members who didn't get the message that the IWW had split only found out months later that the IWGB was her new union and she had been unaware that in effect she was not protected at work, so she joined UNISON. I wonder how many other IWW-organised workplaces cleaners who thought they were in a union later found out, too late, that their leaders had abandoned them for a new project?


Their strategy was to find already organised workers and split them from their union, at least that is what they tried at London Met; so what has happened at Senate House for me looks like they've developed their strategy, learnt lessons from failure at London Met. I realise I’m not in the majority and most lefties blame UNISON local/regional bureaucracy for what went wrong. It is not my place to slag off other branch leaderships for any mistakes they may have made, just as I would not make this blog a place to attack other campaign strategies if I broadly agreed with the campaign. If I think workers are being totally mislead then I reserve the right to say so - to their faces and in public if I think what is being done is to the detriment of those workers. In my view the IWGB deliberately looked for trouble and developed a split.

And after all UNISON is fair game because it’s such a right-wing union, which has "abandoned the cleaners" who have "left en masse", according to this reportfrom around the time of our fall out.

I won’t bore you with the details any further (unless prompted and you buy me a drink at the next event), but in a nutshell I did what our (shocked) Branch Secretaries at the time suggested: contact them and their full time officers, make a complaint if need be. I tried several times to get this sorted through a few channels, but not being in the TUC doesn’t help. As some of my best friends are anarchists, so to speak, I tried them too. No luck, just emails from Ford saying they were too busy to deal with 'gossip' and some links to Red Pepper about their strike at John Lewis.

TUC or not to be
Here is the rub: is this about ‘industrial unionism’? Clearly not if you are breaking workers away from a larger union that organises all support staff. An industrial union would be merging UCU and UNISON in HE. Is it really about Syndicalism? Or is it about the uniqueness of the UK’s unitary trade union federation? The IWGB might be recognised by the Government but they’re not affiliated to the TUC - unlike almost all trade unions in the UK worth their salt. Their view is basically: UNISON is a Labour-affiliated, sell-out union full of right wing officials so there is no way we should join them. My view is things are more complex and dynamic than that.

All of this stuff may be important to those thinking about the wider issues of red unionism or whatever. I’m no historian, and I’m not a dialectical materialist who likes to hypothesize with my pen all night and day. I do follow my instincts though, and when I see what is good or bad for organised labour and I call it for what it is when I see it: The IWGB is either a sectarian personality cult or I’ve been blinded by a one-off bad experience.   

When the IWGB split to almost everyone’s amusement, I suddenly got an apology from some good folk still in the IWW who heard about what happened at London Met - fair play to them for that (my efforts to get through via left channels paid off in the end). Some of the stuff they shared with me was laughable, over the top stuff which made my experience look pretty tame too. Here is another blog post trying to make sense of the politics behind the split. Yes, I’m so sad I actually looked this up.

We then had a bit of a debate sharing our experiences about organising cleaners in the open.

Elsewhere, eg at Sussex, since this was kicking off, another claim about an exciting new opportunity in the guise of a pop-up union was hailed by Mark Bergfeld here.

The more level headed (and frankly much more experienced) Sandy Nicoll sets out why this is not as helpful as it might seem

I got into a Facebook discussion about all this, (I know, I know, despite what I said elsewhere, this is NEVER a good idea). I was one of the ‘many’ people referred to in Mark’s foot note to correct the (massively incorrect) figures he had quoted. I pointed out some other consistently inaccurate numbers decline the chance to amend or clarify these, so I questioned the ‘trusted sources’ who fed his info and suggested therefore his analysis was also flawed.

The IWGB defend their decision
You have a problem the the branch/ region, so you decide (spontaneously of course), to leave and join the IWGB? Disaster.

The secretary of the IWGB at Senate House (a PhD student at SOAS) who wrote this article sets out lots of reasons why they left UNISON on the AWL website here. Jason lists lots of things they have done since to build a coalition but none of those them cannot be done whilst actively inside UNISON (which represents 50,000 Higher ed workers, the largest section by occupation are cleaners). For example, I remember using Labourstart for a campaign we had in 2009. 

Having an office in the RMT sounds really fab unless you consider that they gave up access to an office on the site of the workers they seek to represent.

Anyway, for the record, I fully support the aims of the cleaners' 3-Cosas campaign at Senate House, I have been to support their branch a few times in the last two years just as I've been to show support for SOAS's campaign for justice for cleaners and the LSBU campaign or the UEL branch and so on. Good luck to them, but they've made the wrong choice. 

They left a union with a recognition agreement with not only the University itself but the employer directly, Balfour Beaty. So having a majority won't matter - if the employer already recognise UNISON they're not legally obliged to talk to anyone else, no matter how maddening that might be for the cleaners. 

I do realise UNISON have handled this badly, to put it mildly. I also supported the occupation by students against outsourcing at Sussex and supported the rallies and demos when I could, even traveled down to Brighton three or four times to visit. I also get on well with Mark Bergfeld and others involved in the fight against privatisation at Sussex, and I am sure was can talk in a friendly way about our differences. He did make attempts to distance himself from the IWGB and their ilk.  I fear that bridges with the leaders of the 3 Cosas campaign will be burned, though: after all, it's not easy to work with folk who go around encouraging workers to leave the same union you are busy telling people to join.

Talk about deserting the rest of us too - how many people on the left have been frustrated by UNISON's leaderhisp and structures, but have stayed and fought? Some have been banned from office for years, and eventually got back involved in their branch and then elected onto the NEC with heads held high and dignity. I’ve got infinitely more respect for those comrades than the people who claim ‘not fair’ and leave at the first chance to be a bigger fish in a much smaller pond. Why not stand again in the elections run by ERS?

There you go - I've got it all off my chest. Those of you still reading this far, who haven't abandoned the struggle to transform UNISON into an organising, campaigning and democratic union, I'll see you at the next UNISON event to moan all about it. As a reward for getting this far, here are some pictures of a recent demo. One final thing - is it going too far to say their new flag, with those arrows reminds me of this one

Friday, 12 July 2013

Open letter: to break the pay freeze we must go out together

We are serious about breaking the pay freeze in Higher Education.
Some people have said recently that one sector alone cannot break the government-imposed pay freeze. Whilst we agree that the pay freeze is an unjust attempt to make public sector workers pay for a crisis that they did not cause, we also believe that a stand has to be taken and we in HE are willing to take that stand.
We can only take decisions directly on our own sector. UNISON members in HE have clearly rejected the pay freeze in our indicative ballot and have shown a willingness to take industrial action to fight for fair pay.
We believe the unions in HE, united and working together can break the pay freeze. So we are calling on those members in UCU to also 'reject' – and to vote for strike action to come out with us.
Our Higher Ed Service group has voted to move towards a ballot for industrial action in the new term, clearly calling for coordinating any ballot with the UCU to maximise the impact.
We believe we need joint campaign materials across the HE unions to show we are serious about a united campaign.
As for other parts of the public sector, we can look to coordinate our action with our sisters and brothers in the civil service unions, the Teachers unions and those in the Post office or those in the Fire brigades union who are also preparing action against cuts and privatisation.
And if we do come out together with coordinated industrial action in the new term this may well inspire other areas to follow our lead, just as UNISON followed the lead of the UCU, PCS, ATL and NUT over pensions.
The pay freeze is just one area of cuts to our terms and conditions. We believe that we will only be able to fight the job cuts, the privatisation and casualisation of our sector if we stand firm on pay. If we accept the continued pay freeze we only lay ourselves open to further attacks.
We realise that this is not an easy path but, after last year's ballot, we in UNISON learnt that a key to success was unity of action amongst the unions. .
We congratulate you for taking a strong position to reject at your recent conference in May and we wish to send a message of support to your activists and members that we are with you –  together we are stronger.
Let us know if there is anything we can do to help your campaign.
In solidarity,*
Max Watson, NEC and Chair, London Met Uni Branch
Tomasa Bullen, NEC and Chair, Southampton District Branch
Sandy Nichol, SOAS Branch Sec and Higher Ed Service Group Executive (HE SGE)
Molly Cooper, HE SGE and UCL Branch
Sarah Pickett, HE SGE and Brighton UNISON Branch
Kath Owen, HE SGE and Leeds Branch
Matt Raine, HE SGE and Birmingham Branch
* All signatures to this letter are in a personal capacity – if you want to add your name either leave a comment below or email salaam_max@yahoo.co.uk

Thursday, 11 July 2013

New social media - guidance needed for UNISON activists

Trade unionists and 'social media' - 'new' or otherwise - do not always sit comfortably.

Trade unions trend to veer towards detailed, legally approved guidance, 'correct' procedures, protocols, committees and subcommittees. Social media on the other hand is fast changing, unruly, and without much guidance.

There is a lot written on the internet about how to use the internet. Part of the problem of getting the message on how to use the internet more constructively to those who don't use the world wide web is breaking down the mystique surrounding it.

So when a blogger talks about hashtags or 'hits', for most trade unionists, the mind boggles. So how to talk about this blog post with an NEC member who doesn't even use their own email address, let alone their own twitter account?

Another issue is being a bit smarter with your smartphone in the workplace. We need good guidance for members to avoid getting themselves into trouble (and for activists to avoid unnecessary casework). The LRD recently published guidance following reps coming across increasing amounts of disciplinary cases as a result of ill advised Facebook comments. It needs to be boiled down into bite sized chunks. For starters, how about:

* Don't call your boss a 'F*%king W%£*er!' online.
* Don't boast on Facebook about going to the pub all day when you are 'off sick'...

There is lots of promotion of the internet for a communication tool for activists but not a great deal of guidance for members on being smarter when they use their smart phones.

I've written this all up after looking at some notes I took at conference. I had these noted down (with a pencil on paper, btw) as I was sitting on the top table at UNISON's National Delegates Conference because I'd been asked to speak on behalf of the NEC on Motion 6 which talked about increasing our social media usage. The motion didn't get prioritised, so my speech never got heard. (Ah well - always next year, I suppose).

Facebook 'Groups' vs 'Pages'
When I was suspended from work, one of the first things that the campaign group set up was a Facebook 'Group' to Defend Jawad and Max', and we invited all our 'Friends' to join - they could then get daily, or even hourly updates on the campaign. It quickly - very quickly - gained over 1,000 members.

The good thing about a FB Groups is anyone can post into them (you can choose moderators to avoid spam) if they're a member and anyone can invite their friends to join - so it can snowball without much admin or effort and is participatory. Members of the group can feel part of something they're able to influence.

London Met branch has a FB Group but not a page or a profile, and activists are given admin rights so they can deny or approve member requests - only members can join our branch but often students or other activists want to join. They have to be a full member to get access to our group. Other branches, I've noticed go for public, open pages or groups and I'm an honorary 'branch member' of a few 'groups'. I'm 'honoured', but I do think it's better for a members only forum so you can see who is a member and discuss workplace issues only with those effected by that issue.

By the way, if you have more than 250 members of a group it is too late to change your group name. So when Steve was suspended we couldn't add his name to that group... Choose your name wisely, and remember this is one of the many limits of letting someone else control the management. Lots of Facebook profiles can disappear over night on Facebook, so don't rely on it too much (more on that later).

Blogs and branch websites
We also set up a campaign blog for the defend Jawad Max and Steve campaign. This meant the campaign committee (set up by the branch but not exclusive to the branch committee) could elect our own comms team that updated that blog which was only about that campaign.

A blog is very easy to set up and if you are going to run a serious campaign with any length of time it's good to have a separate site. Wordpress and Blogger are as easy to learn how to use as email and I'm always amazed at how many branch don't have functioning websites or ones that haven't been updated for years. Our branch website, of course, is very cutting edge.

I propose an annual competition with awards at NDC for the best UNISON branch website which neatly uses social media and actively engages members. Branches could submit their own and a voting system (online of course) could decide the winners from a shortlist. If the NEC doesn't agree to this, then the twitterers can set up their own...

I appreciate the limits of it, but for many people - especially support staff sat behind a desk all day with a strong sense of social injustice combined with a feeling of helplessness of their alienating day job - so called 'clicktivism' can be a real outlet. And it can have a tangible impact too.

For example: our campaign for reinstatement had a 'take action' page. This included sending a model email to the powers that be in our Uni. The link took you to a page with a very simple form. You enter you email, your name and then click 'send' to fire off an email that went to the VC, the director of HR, and a blind copy went to unison - so we could count them coming in and also we then added the email to our email list of supporters. Over 600 of these were sent. If you are doing a day job and in two weeks you get over 600 emails having a go at you, it tends to get noticed.

The Labourstart website does this regularly with good effect (as was mentioned in Motion 6), but you can set these up yourself on a blog yourselves, so don't feel you have to ask Eric Lee personally to do it for you. Eric Lee by the way preaches caution about outsourcing your online campaign to Facebook. He tried to set up a rival called Union book but I've not been back for a while, tbh.

Lobbies, and 'virtual lobbies'
At London Met we have had too may lobbies of our Board of Governors meetings to remember them all in the last few years, so when we ran a campaign against privatisation last year we decided to try something new: a 'virtual lobby'. It worked really well. Instead of encouraging members to come to stand outside a building and hold a placard, listen to some speeches - with the risk not many would turn up at the end of their working day when they are heading home - we organised a photo shoot in the workplace.

Activists went round with a placard on the day of the 'lobby' and asked members to have their photo taken holding a 'No to Shark Services' message, and over 50 people took part. The photos were all sent in by email (via some activists using their 'smart phones' of course). Then a slide show was set up on our website and these slides were sent as an email to all of the Governors.

We won that campaign. We don't know whether it was over 100 members saying in email to the VC they would not sign a new contract and refused to be TUPEd over, or whether our ballot for industrial action had been approved by the region, or was it the impact of this virtual lobby that helped tip the balance in our favour. Probably all combined but what is certain is more members participated in the virtual lobby more than the numbers who turned out for our actual lobby a month or two later.

Youtube - reaching way beyond your activist base
That lobby went well, and then we had a seminar about a paper by an academic called Steve Jefferys - and about 25 people attended. Not bad - an audience of activists now fully up to date with strong arguments against privatisation informed by with evidence-based research. Even better though; over 150 people then watch the film of that meeting online on our own Youtube channel. Easy to do, easy to set up, and all done in-house with the volunteered skills of our own members.

In the blogosphere, the words 'Youtube helps you get a bigger audience' might not exactly sound like a sophisticated analysis or a new idea, but trade union activists really do need to have guidance provided on just how simple it is to do this. It doesn't have to be a glossy, million-dollar advert to join your union that looks like an insurance sales advert.

To tweet or not to Tweet?
Some people love it and are clearly obsessed (dare I say addicted), and others just ignore it and wait for the phase to pass: the dreaded Twitter. I have an account and I do dip in and out.

Some branches have a branch account and others spend more time tweeting that meeting members, frankly.

The #undc13 hastag was a good example for me of how Twitter can be great and awful at the same time. Almost as if there were two very different conferences in June. Maybe that is to do with the frustration of people not getting past Standing Orders to get their views heard? Maybe some people prefer shouting from the side lines than actual debate.

The way people talk to each other on twitter is not generally the way you would talk to somebody face to face (or from a top table). So I'm not a huge fan, but I did enjoy getting some feedback from other tweeters about what UNISON could do to improve. Here are some:

  1. Been asked to speak at on behalf of the NEC about using new media as trade unionists. Any comments on how we could improve?

  2. hi Max! need more guidelines from Unison! Unison needs to get better at promoting hashtags and twitter and the power it has
  3. we should publish a 'How to use twitter effectively, a guide for trade unionists' (in 140 char)? ...
  4. This! Possibly legal advice about what we tweet and about personal capacity/ accountability :)
  5. steady on! Accountability? As an NEC member I'm VERY cautious about that concept ...;-)

(You just wouldn't say this from the top table...)

    1. Been asked to speak at on behalf of the NEC about using new media as trade unionists. Any comments on how we could improve?

    2. use of new media needs to be more natural. It all seems a bit structured.
    3. Agree: we need to find a balance between guidance and control-freakary.Or the SOC will start (dis)approving all our tweets

totally agree. We are tweeting in the name of UNISON but we need to appear more human!

(Bold added for this post: I think this is a really good point about being human. Sometimes a bureaucracy just cannot and never will be able to sound human! Especially when every communication has to be checked by a boss and their bosses' boss to sign it all off... Unions have to let their activists be trusted to build up relationships.

    1. "The left has a problem with Twitter" says - on how we must compete with capitalist media

      Image will appear as a link
    2. thanks for this. Timely, as UNISON delegates conf have motion on social media, may be discussed tomorrow
    3. Brilliant - I'd be interested to hear a report of that discussion.
A shame that we never got to discuss it... maybe next year.
    1. Been asked to speak at on behalf of the NEC about using new media as trade unionists. Any comments on how we could improve?

    2. we could be better at Facebook. I would like good shares and infographics for our branch page.

For those thinking 'WTF is an infographic?' Here is one I 'Liked' on FB recently (at top).

Personally, I'm less mad about Twitter but some clearly love it. Some of the rubbish said about amendment 8.1 is better not read at all as you might come away thinking the #UNDC13 was full of bigoted fools who do not want to resist against violence against women when that is clearly nonsense.

During our campaign for reinstatement this year a rep told me how impressed they were with how quickly her tweets about the petition we had was being retweeted around the world, going viral. It is clearly something people need to think about if they want to get people's attention with a big campaign. I am skeptical about your average members using it in their day to day lives to get their UNISON updates though so don't go dropping your printed newsletter just yet.

'Union island' - a warning
Remember 'second life'? Remember how were were all going to be living virtual lives and those news stories about  people getting rich on their 'second' currencies? Some union activists got all excited about it and set up a 'union island' and it flopped. The lesson? Wait to find out if it is a phase before jumping on EVERY bandwagon. Don't go setting up an account for the branch for each and every new fangled 'exciting' social media which turns out to just make you look like you are trying to be young and edgy (and face it, you're probably not really are you?!)

Don't wait too long though - Facebook is not exactly a phase but its star is fading and many trade unionists only just got used to the idea of it.

There is loads out there about the limits of using electronic media and some great stuff go sent to me about this topic when I tweeted about it which I am grateful for but cannot link to all of it here as this blog post is way too long already.

Face to face - better than a Facebook chat
You cannot substitute talking face to face with members and it always beats Facebook messaging them but that's not always possible. That should never be forgotten though and if you're substituting your corridor walks and talking with members for a browse online then you need to be honest about what you are really doing (wasting time).

I hope there is enough here to spark a little debate and keep the ideas shared at #undc13 going and who knows, maybe at #undc14 we will see an improved social media presence among our own. Maybe even a motion that gets discussed?

Right, now 'get off the internet, I'll see you in the streets,' as they used to say somewhere online... Oh, one more thing before you go, have you filled in this survey yet?