Labour Research (November 2012)

Union news

Organisers help to mobilise community

The country’s largest union, general union Unite, has appointed six “community co-ordinators” to help mobilise unemployed and retired people, students and others outside the normal pool of potential union members.

The aim is to involve those pushed to the margins of society in local campaigns such as saving their library from closure.

The appointments are part of the plan to develop the community membership scheme announced by the union a year ago with the aim of bringing “people outside of the workplace into the union community, linking families and workplaces together to strive for a better, more caring society”.

Community members pay a subscription rate of 50p a week and are entitled to a range of benefits such as debt counselling and legal advice.

The hope is to develop a network of volunteer community activists, trained by Unite in community organising, to promote membership and activity in their area.

The new co-ordinators will help oil the wheels and include Hillsborough Justice campaigner Sheila Coleman, who will work in the North West.

In a separate move, the union has appointed a new professional officer to deal with regulatory issues facing its health sector members. Jane Beach was formerly a nurse and a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, among other roles.

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