Campaign Week – 7-11 March 2011
In July 2010, staff and lay members agreed to dedicate a week of campaigning under our Million Voices Campaign, focussed on the NHS. This was an initial experiment to see whether this approach worked, with the aim of evaluating it for the future.
There was a long lead in period to the campaign, particularly to build support via the Health Annual Forum as well as at local forum meetings and the week selected was in march, some eight months after the original decision. Dates were blocked out in staff calendars well in advance
Three GPF bids were submitted by each of the Area Forums, on behalf of the joint branches. These were used to fund materials, a campaign bus for Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. A campaign specific leaflet was designed for use with the public, but other materials were designed to be more generic – for example the logos for the bus were designed around the theme of public services, so that they could be used in future campaigns. The get Active Event was also designed to kick start the week and offer training to those taking part, as well as delegates across the whole region
Over 70 events were organised during the week, from recruitment stalls in canteens to street stalls for the public or workplace visits. The attached schedule shows the success of these events in terms of members recruited or contacts or stewards. In addition to the recruitment figures, the week also resulted in a strong media profile as well as creating a stronger profile for UNISON in the workplace and the community. Many involved reported feeling energised and enthused by the week and there was a really positive response from members, non-members and the public. While the timing of weeks like this with a long lead in time is always problematic, it turned out that the NHS was a really prominent public issue, especially in parts of the South West where services are to transfer to Social Enterprises.
There is no doubt that there were some problems in terms of staff involvement due to the problems of keeping a week free and also in branch involvement being inconsistent. Some events were solely attended by staff, even where local reps were present on site. There was also resistance from employers as well as other unions, who resented such a high profile campaign
There is no doubt, that despite scepticism, the week of campaigning was successful, both in raising our profile, recruiting new members and reps as well as getting the public to understand our key messages. We should consider a further event of this type later in the year and need to decide:
a) What would be the theme – e.g. Pensions?
b) Would this be a week or a moth with two days in each week?
c) How do we get universal branch involvement and also ensure staff have sufficient time to make the week a success?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad