Organisational tips: Your Tasks!

Delegates sitting in the organisational commission of the National Bargaining Conference (NBC) held in April 2005, produced a checklist for shop stewards and organisers. Are you cut out to be a shop steward? Do the organisational test.

Workers belonging to labour brokers in all industries where there is a Cosatu affiliate, must be visited and encouraged to join trade unions. Officials told the National Bargaining Conference that this is notjust a task of shop steward councils alone, but theirs also. If unchecked, these workers belonging to brokers will undermine the operations of that particular union. This needs to be addressed urgently to mobilise all workers to speak with one voice. Shop stewards need to attend local meetings to build their capacity.

Do the organisational test:

1. Have you recruited workers belonging to labour brokers?

(a) in the last 6 months (b) last year (c) Never

2. When did you last attend your local shop steward council?

(a) last week (b) 3 months ago (c) Never

3. When did you last give your members a report back?

(a) in the last 6 months (b) last year (c) Never

4. When was the last time you helped a worker(s) with a grievance?

(a) in the last 6 months (b) last year (c) Never

There they learn to develop as they are exposed to larger discussions that affect the workers. Workers should be wise about whom they elect. After any local or regional seminar, workshop or congress, plant-workers, since they do not attend these, must be timeously updated on any deliberations from those meetings. Frequent report-backs bring spirited moods to workers when they know what is cooking in the air. Concern was raised about shop stewards in whom their union had invested, that they are easily whisked away by managerial positions, leaving behind a vacuum that takes time to fill.

A membership without a developed representation is left stranded. To build a strong union structure in any factory, there is a strong belief that a unified and disciplined shop steward council must be in place. Cliques and self agendas weaken the image of that said structure. Out of this we get a directionless membership as there is no guidance that is sought for worker control. Shop floor problems, grievance and complaints about work operations, must be addressed simultaneously.

To overlook them, spells hazards for any union. An in depth look as to the nature of the problem, is a must, and so is the will to solve the problems. This makes a shop steward gain confidence from his workplace. A solid workforce comes out of such measures undertaken. Shop stewards’ problems and frustrations must also be looked into and solved. Local officials must not just come to a company on assignments from the regions. Their duties include heavy tasks experienced by a shop steward council. As for the shortage of female representatives, this task belongs to all women themselves.

They must participate at all levels of discussions, from this emanates their recognition as potential leaders. Campaigns, stayaways and legal strikes must be known in time, and officials must visit factories to assist shop stewards and in this way we can have a strong union in any industry.


= 5
= 3
= 0

Scores:20 = you are an effective shop steward10-20 = okay, but more attention to some aspects of your job0-9 = perhaps you should reconsider whether you really want to be a shop steward!