Membership drive begins at Ofcom

BECTU and Prospect, the unions for staff of communications regulator Ofcom, are launching a major recruitment exercise this month.

After signing a recognition deal with Ofcom, BECTU and Prospect reps have been mapping the union membership and making plans to invite non-members to sign up. Martin Stubbs of BECTU and Stan Murphy of Prospect have guided their membership through a difficult year of talks about the transfer of staff into Ofcom and delicate negotiations that resulted in the new recognition deal and are now looking forward to reaping the benefits.

The recognition deal was signed by Ofcom Chief Executive, Stephen Carter. Also present were Ofcom Chair, Lord Currie and HR Director Sandra Jenner, who welcomed the constructive relationship that had grown up between the parties and expressed satisfaction that the unions and Ofcom Board had eventually been able to agree on trade union recognition alongside a mechanism for fulfilling Ofcom's obligations under the information and consultation legislation.

BECTU National Official, Anna Kruthoffer, emphasised "the challenge is to make the paper document into a living agreement, that enables Ofcom's staff to have a real say on matters affecting their working lives".

Ofcom staff who are in other unions will be invited to transfer their membership and non-members will be introduced to the benefits of union organisation. Under the comprehensive facilities agreement, Ofcom enable the unions to host two half-day recruitment events each year and the first of these will be held on 13 October. Union officials will be distributing membership forms to staff and encouraging them to attend a lunchtime meeting to learn about their rights under the recognition agreement.

The following week, on 19 October, those who have joined up can elect their union representatives for the first time. There are three "constituencies", each will have to select two representatives. The unions have agreed that either union can put forward candidates for each constituency and are committed to working as a "joint-union" team to promote the interests of members in each area.

Reps are currently in discussion with Ofcom about the decision to "red circle" the salaries of staff who transferred to Ofcom on their existing terms under the TUPE arrangements, but who are paid more than the Ofcom pay band maximum. The meetings on 13 and 19 October will be an opportunity for Ofcom staff to talk to the union about other issues that are important to them.

Members are encouraged to invite their colleagues to join a union and to participate in the elections. Elected reps will get 4 hours a week away from their Ofcom work in order to carry out their trade union duties and will be provided with training to undertake their role.

BECTU National Official, Anna Kruthoffer, would like to hear from any members who assist with recruitment, organising the branch or who are willing to stand as reps. Contact her at akruthoffer@bectu.org.uk

7 October 2004