As a rep, members may approach you with a concern or a problem and seek your advice. You are not expected to know all the answers or deal with every query yourself.
For reps in England, your first point of contact for help with members’ questions is the NUT AdviceLine – telephone 020 3006 6266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions and issues your association or division secretary or regional office will be able to advise you.
For reps in Wales with any queries or issues please contact your association or division secretary or the NUT Cymru office – telephone 029 2049 1818 or email email@example.com
Individual issues may range from a relatively minor concern to a more serious issue that has formal implications. Individual issues may include conditions of service questions, capability or disciplinary issues, discrimination, bullying and so on. You can use the ‘Help and advice’ link on the right to find further information on issues such as these. Again, it is not necessary for you to know all policy and procedures relating to these matters. Rather, it is important that you are seen as someone who members feel confident and comfortable talking to about issues and concerns.
Many problems which members bring to you as an individual issue will also have a collective aspect. For example, a workload problem is unlikely to only affect a single teacher in a school. Many members feel surprised but relieved to find that they can draw on the support and camaraderie of colleagues and work together to improve the situation. This is a fundamental principle of being in a trade union.
If the issue or concern affects more than one member, then, if appropriate, you should seek to get members together. This could be a meeting or an informal chat. Some collective issues may be able to be addressed by speaking with the head teacher, principal or manager, others may need to be resolved through formal procedures. However, with some collective issues more negotiation and pressure to bring about positive change may be necessary and you may need a workplace campaign.
Before dealing with such concerns you need to make sure that the issue is genuinely relevant to members and potential members. If we campaign around issues that are important to teachers, we increase our chances of getting them involved, and increase the likelihood of effecting positive change in the workplace. Before embarking on a campaign concerning any issue you should ask if it is:
- Widely felt – does the issue affect enough teachers – either across the whole school/workplace, within a particular department or amongst a specific group?
- Deeply felt – are the teachers affected sufficiently concerned or angry about the issue to want to engage with, and take part in, the campaign?
- Winnable – is there a realistic chance of achieving a concrete victory in relation to the issue via the campaign?
- Visible – will taking on the allow members to actively participate in the campaign?
Reps and their members have achieved significant successes in workplaces across the country by having confidence and working together.