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Become a Rep
Thinking of becoming a rep? Being a UFS Rep requires patience, a passion for fairness and above all, a caring nature which helps to support your colleagues as they deserve to be.
UFS Reps get really involved in a number of issues from solving problems for their colleagues to having a real influence on business changes. They are also instrumental in building relationships with local management and raising awareness of UFS not only with current members but also those interested in joining.
UFS provides a robust training program that enables you to handle queries, represent members and negotiate confidently. UFS Officials work closely with UFS Reps and offer support and advice on each case you have, in order to ensure you give accurate and helpful guidance.
If you would like to become a Rep, you can contact your local UFS Rep or one of the officials at UFS. As soon as we're confident that you're right for the role, an electoral notice will take place, you will receive your Accredited Rep's training and will be helping people in no time!
Many members fear that becoming a rep will be to the detriment of their career. In fact, UFS find that a large number of reps become promoted. Five reps in one region were promoted or seconded and cited skills they have developed through UFS training as helping them through the interview process.
A Rep's Roles and Responsibility
Reps are of vital importance to the successful running of a Trade Union and are responsible for a number of roles, from supporting good dispute resolution to regularly engaging with the membership.
UFS is recognised for bargaining purposes and has Partnership Agreements in a number of companies, including Zurich Financial Services, Capita and CSC. In these employers, Reps are entitled to take paid time off to perform their duties. You should make yourself aware of any agreements in place between UFS and your employer, such as a Facilities Agreement, as these will detail what Reps are entitled to.
In order to ensure that Reps have the tools and skills that they need in order to be successful in their role, UFS have in place ‘The Four R’s’ which will give the Rep the knowledge they need to maintain UFS’ presence in their locations. These principles are the key to being a successful Rep and, therefore, the successful running of the Union.
The 4R's are:
In order for UFS to have an effective relationship with employers, it is crucial that Reps are seen as respected, professional and trustworthy people. This gives confidence to the membership and the employer that UFS is a positive influence, rather than a destructive one.
Reps should also be actively promoting the Union and ensuring that UFS is visible to staff, whether through visual aids and promotional literature or newsletter distribution and ‘walk rounds’.
Recruiting new members to join UFS is one of the most important roles a Union Rep has. Without new members, the effectiveness of UFS at both a local and national level diminishes and it is often difficult to repair retrospectively.
Reps are in a unique position in that they perform some of the work of a Union Full Time Official, but they are more visible and well-known to their colleagues. This makes the best recruiters.
Reps are able to physically speak to new and existing staff about the Union and have a better idea about the personality of their colleagues and, therefore, what types of recruitment incentive or promotion are most likely to be effective.
Further to the above, building positive relationships with key individuals is a vital aspect of good employment relations and can be invaluable in helping a Rep carry out their duties effectively as it helps break down negative perceptions.
It is also important that Reps are also supporting each other and working together. Building a good ‘network’ of Reps and being well organised can make a huge difference on how effective the Reps are in their branches.
Maintaining good relationships with the membership is imperative and it is important to remember that the Union is only as strong as its membership. Hence, it is important that the membership feel supported and that UFS is communicating with them regularly.
This is the cornerstone of a Rep’s role as it covers all other areas. Whether in attempting to resolve disputes with the employer, dealing with business changes or making suggestions to the Union, Reps are often acting as the voice of the membership.
Much of the role of a Rep is to try and resolve workplace problems without the need for formal meetings, although if this is not possible, Union members have a legal right to be represented by a Union Rep in any formal disciplinary or grievance meeting that they are invited to
Resolving problems at work is a very important part of the role and it is important that Reps are confident that any advice and guidance given to members is accurate and helpful. It is also a legal requirement for UFS to provide training to its Reps and monitor the advice given to ensure it is appropriate.
Rep's Learning and Development
Being a UFS Rep means that you will be expected to offer advice and guidance on employment matters to members, as well as formally represent them in disciplinary and grievance meetings. You may also be involved in formal consultations on matters such as changes to contracts or even redundancy.
All Reps must complete the Accreditation course, called ‘The 4 R’s Training’, before offering any advice or guidance to UFS members. This will give you the knowledge and skills you need to perform all of your Rep duties, from recruiting new members to representing colleagues in formal meetings.
At all times, the UFS Full Time Officials are there to support and guide you wherever necessary and if you feel uncomfortable about any of your Rep duties, you can contact them who will be happy to help you in any way possible.
Reps are the lifeblood of any Trade Union and so UFS would like to thank you for getting involved and if you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the Helpline.