Following a recent advertising campaign, we have gained a lot of new members from management graded employees in a number of businesses beyond our traditional catchment area. We can, after all, represent any employee in a formal grievance or disciplinary case, wherever they work.
One particular comment is worth repeating here, from a senior manager who found that he needed our services rather urgently (- albeit after he had joined! We do not chase after cases where the problem started prior to membership.)
“I have worked over twenty years in management roles and you cannot believe what a relief it is to have someone there for me, to whom I can talk in confidence and who understands the business issues I am facing on a day to day basis.
I thought I was alone out there and no-one could help or would understand. I cannot understate the value of this service and wish I had known about the RBA earlier in my working life.”
Managers are paid to manage, to cope.
In some organisations, managers who call upon help and advice from a Union are considered to be weak!
This flies in the face of the fact that those same organisations will invariably spend a great deal of money on teams of highly skilled personnel professionals, and when an issue escalates into the “courtroom”, rely upon the services of very expensive lawyers.
Managers cope by knowing and using all the resources at their disposal – if this were not so, why have anyone above, for instance, store management level in an organisation?
The store manager can report directly to the City and shareholders without the need for all those people in between!
Although I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of managers may well like this thought, clearly it cannot work.
There is a need for economies of scale to be considered, and no-one is expert in all things. Store Support functions exist as a useful resource for managers to call upon.
The RBA is a similar type of resource, where the only difference is that it’s role is to support the person rather than the business, although there are a lot of issues where both interests coincide.
Unions do not interfere, or disrupt, and anyone who still thinks they do is living thirty years in the past.
We do our best, however, to ensure that good practice is maintained, and that misunderstandings and pressures of business life do not escalate.
We prefer to prevent issues occurring rather than cure them, and avoid causing them unnecessarily in the first place.
We have no desire to interfere in the operation of any business but do strongly believe that we have a role to play in maintaining good employment relations, because, where people are concerned, relationship issues will occur.
The main role we play is therefore for individual managers and staff within formal grievance and disciplinary procedures.
We do have an interest in collective personnel issues, but this depends upon high levels of membership within any “bargaining unit”.
Business (Operational) issues are best dealt with in a different forum and should not usually require Union involvement (although we do like to know what’s going on, because everything that occurs in a business will have some effect upon its employees).
The message is simple – as with any type of insurance, hopefully you won’t have any problems, but if you do, you will be glad that we are there for you.
Paul Lee, RBA National Officer