Over the past few years great strides have been made in Usdaw’s training for its shop stewards. One of the major developments has been Usdaw’s Organising Academy which was formed in 2003. There has been over 100 Organising Officers who have graduated from the Academy. Many of these have become Area Organisers and Recruitment Development Officers and many more are playing an important role within Union. The Academy has been a major success.
There has been some debate whether the Academy has been used solely for the purpose of recruitment of new members. The recruitment of new members provides the necessary income to continue finance the Academy but the key to the success of our Union is the development of the shop stewards and the building of the shop steward structures in the workplace.
The decision has now been made to continue the training for those who have successfully completed the Academy. This new Academy, which we hope will utilise and further develop the skills that the Organising Officers have obtained, should have been introduced at least two years ago. Let’s hope this new Academy 2 must concentrate on building the workplace structures rather than being just another recruitment exercise.
Also organising training should be provided for all those who donate their time for the union and these include Tesco RDRs and Stand-down reps.
The Academy should not only be for those who are willing and able to take six-months out of their workplaces but for all the activists. Many of the Union’s leading members are playing important and crucial roles in shops, distribution centres and factories up and down the country and the Academy is unavailable for them because they cannot be spared from their workplaces The whole of the training for shop stewards, health and safety reps, and learning reps should be part of the Academy structure. From the rep’s first introductory course to the advanced course and then onto the specialist courses, reps will have the opportunity to progress which should lead to a recognised qualification.
The Education Department, along with representatives from all parts of the Union, will be asked to review the present structures and then propose a new training programme. The members and Executive Council will be fully involved in the process and the final document will then be discussed at the Executive Council and the new plans presented to the ADM.
By Robbie Segal
(Usdaw General Secretary Candidate)