If you’re unsure about becoming a union rep than it may help to know that TUC Education provides training for more than 57,000 workplace, health and safety and learning representatives each year. It’s legally recognised that reps need paid release for union training, and you can be assured of a warm welcome on accredited courses that will equip you with the skills to represent your fellow workplace members.
The Health and Safety Stage 1 Certificate is a 12-day course that provides a thorough grounding in health and safety issues and gives new reps from a multitude of workplaces an opportunity to discuss issues around health and safety at work.
Elected CWU rep Colin Coxey, who has worked at the Royal Mail for 17 years, completed the course earlier this year. Having done very little training since leaving school he admits, “It can be intimidating coming back into the classroom. You find though that others are in the same boat and that the tutors themselves were once students on the courses and can identify with your experiences.”
In addition says fellow student, Paul Grant, an elected RMT safety rep at Northern Rail, “you quickly learn that other reps have the same issues and you soon get to know, and share ideas, with each other through the group exercises that form such a big part of the course.”
Both men agreed that the facilities were first-class at the Faculty of Trade Union Studies, which forms part of the Horsforth site at Leeds City College. The latest I.T facilities have helped give Paul the “skills to type and save letters, whilst I can now follow a web trail to find information that I can pass on to members and use in meetings with management.”
The latter are now taking place more regularly after the knowledge learnt on the courses’ mock workplace inspections were utilised back at Paul’s workplace as he pushes to make sure management create a safe workplace. He’s especially keen to get the heating system fixed in the staff locker room and canteen, but is also finding that “now I’ve done the course members are raising other issues that concern them. I know to keep them informed as I try to progress matters.”
Meantime, says Colin “discovering my legal rights as a rep has led to a safety committee being established with reps from different shifts all involved.” Good news, therefore, not only for the 40 drivers he represents at the Royal Mail’s Distribution Centre in Normanton, but all 250 who work there.
“I am glad that Paul and Colin have found the course useful. Twelve days, in which they get to know their role in the workplace, and develop the skills to effectively carry it out, is just a starter,” says tutor Paul Wyatt, a former coachbuilder for two decades who is now curriculum area manager for the trade union studies department at Leeds.
For more details on the courses – held in Leeds, Bradford, Castleford, Sheffield, Northern College Barnsley, Hull - ring 0113 242 9296 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgSee also www.unionlearn.org.uk/extraUL/Education/TUEDbrochures/Yorks.pdf