Role of trade Union

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Do other organisations out there have union staff who view opportunities with suspicion? who refuse to allow progress to be made without first putting up obstacles which slow down the process and cause uneccessary delay, and do nothing in terms of improving their skills unless they receive guaranteed financial gain beforehand?
Helen roberts


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By fitol
25th Jan 2002 14:01

Hello Helen

I have every sympathy with the situation you are in - it must be very frustrating. However, our experience at the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning is that all trade unions have people development very high on their agenda and, local frustrations apart, they are very keen to explore any development opportunities that may arise.

The advent of Learning Representatives is a welcome step and ITOL hopes that they will have as much beneficial impact on vocational training as Health and Safety Representatives did to workplace safety. The TUC Learning Representatives training course certainly includes an element about 'working with employers' and, if you haven't already done so, I would suggest that you talk to your TU representatives about attending the TUC course. The following is an extract from a TUC press release about the course. If you look at the course objectives I'm sure you will find cause for encouragement. I hope it helps.

Jeffrey Brooks
Director. ITOL

Learning Representative Training

The TUC's Learning Representatives' course training materials have been reviewed and updated. These course materials contain three core modules:

Front-line advice and guidance*
Identifying learning needs
Working with employers

These course materials will help Learning Representatives to:

develop their skills and knowledge about the role of the union learning representative
promote the value of the learning and skills
develop a learning agenda and strategy
work with employers to plan learning opportunities with the workplace
consult with members and identify their learning and skills needs
support members in planning and managing their learning
represent the interests of members by influencing the learning and development strategy within the workplace
build contacts and information networks
collect and record data that their union or funding body needs
find out about government policies and programmes for learning and skills
make learning and skills an important part of the wider union activity

In addition to the core modules further modules have been developed to address the issues of:

Basic skills
Key skills
Workplace learning (including e-learning)
National Vocational Qualifications
Investors in People
Employee Development Schemes
All TUC* courses attract credits from the National Open College Network.

For further information visit the TUC Learning Services website at:

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By nparryp
28th Jan 2002 14:33


Difficult to know how to answer this one.

There are many Trade Unions who are moving from the confrontational model to one that is more consultative and co-operative in nature.

In my experience the source of the problem is very rarely with just the one party and the employer can quite often be at least complicit in the poor relationship.

Without knowing too many details I would hazard that the problem is embedded in the culture of your company and is the result of many years of direct and indirect confrontation, management style, employee mistrust, promises broken and so on.

To change the status quo you could try to take a holistic, objective look at the whole employee relations style of your company and see if there are any areas that cause an employee to say "If you want any more out of me you have to pay me for it!"

If you want your TU members to be more co-operative and consultative you may need to ask yourself if you are setting a good example.

Sorry if this sounds as though I am putting the blame at your feet - I'm not. What I am saying is don't assume that they are the whole of the problem until you've looked at the way the relationship has evolved.

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