Different types of rep

Not all reps have a recognised job description. Some can simply be described as local representatives: the face of the union in a particular workplace or location. But others have very specific responsibilities, usually defined in the branch rules.

 

Local representatives

Well-organised branches usually develop a network of local representatives to undertake a range of tasks, depending on the type of branch or workplace. These include:

  • acting as a focal point for Prospect in their area
  • eliciting and conveying members’ views to the branch or section
  • maintaining the local noticeboard
  • distributing Prospect information
  • ensuring non-members are approached to join, keeping a record of approaches made and, if unsuccessful, the reason
  • ensuring changes in members’ details and location are passed to the branch or section.

Reps with particular skills or interests may be willing to take on specific tasks such as maintaining the content of an eBranch. Local reps may be known by various titles – site secretary, correspondence rep, or just ‘Prospect rep’. In the energy supply industry sector, many are known as technical reps or TRs.

Point of contact

This is not a representative role. It is a Prospect member who wants, and is able, to give a little of their time to support their branch. No training is required and there is no expectation to carry out other duties. The point of contact can help the branch extend its reach by having local contacts across its workplaces.

Branch officers

In the paragraphs that follow, for ‘branch’ you can read ‘section’ or ‘sub-section’ as appropriate.

Chair / President / Convenor

The president or chair presides at all branch conferences or committee meetings and is responsible for:

  • the proper conduct of the meeting
  • ensuring that business is kept moving
  • clarifying the issues under discussion
  • ensuring that clear decisions are reached and recorded.

In most branches, the president is an experienced rep with a wider representational role in negotiations or consultation.

Secretary / Chief Steward

This is the key role in most branches. The Secretary’s duties include:

  • calling committee meetings, conferences or annual general meetings and making all associated practical arrangements including circulating agendas, minutes and action lists
  • submitting to the committee matters referred to them by Prospect / Bectu headquarters or other bodies and dealing with branch correspondence
  • maintaining branch records
  • communication with members – circulars / newsletters. Can be delegated to Communications Rep if available
  • takes responsibility for case management and distributing casework as appropriate

Membership Secretary/Officer

A Membership and Recruitment Secretary’s duties include:

  • leading membership recruitment efforts with support from Prospect / Bectu headquarters
  • maintaining local membership records and if relevant, keeping in close touch with sections about their membership position and helping them to organise their recruitment effort
  • we encourage development of the Membership Secretary role into that of an organiser, placing more emphasis on membership growth and the health of the union’s organisation in the workplace
  • In the absence of Organising Rep the Membership Secretary takes on roles under Organising Rep.

Organising Rep

The duties of an Organising Rep include:

  • mapping the workplace: establishing how many non-members there are and where
  • organising and co-ordinating recruitment campaigns either physically or digitally
  • overseeing the network of local reps and identifying gaps and training needs (in consultation with Union Learning Rep)
  • working alongside Branch Secretary in developing and maintaining a branch development plan which summarises the objectives and actions needed to strengthen organisation and increase membership

Union Learning Rep

Union learning reps have specific legal rights and powers (see Prospect’s ULR factcard). Branches appoint union learning representatives whose duties are to:

  • promote training and development in the workplace by providing advice and information on learning initiatives
  • support members who want to review and broaden their portfolio of skills
  • help to identify sources of training or learning provision
  • act as a confidential sounding board for individuals on development issues
  • work in partnership with the employer to meet the skills and learning needs of individuals and the organisation
  • give feedback on members’ views and experiences of learning at work to the branch and the employer
  • raise the profile of training and development on the bargaining agenda.

Treasurer

The Treasurer’s duties include:

  • the proper use, custody and accounting of the funds allocated to the branch by the National Executive Committee, including paying branch expenses
  • preparing an annual income and expenditure account, up to 31 December of each year and submitting it in time for the annual audit
  • supplying any additional information on finance needed by Prospect / Bectu headquarters where relevant, transmitting to section treasurers money allocated by the branch committe
  • to provide any necessary admin the role requires.

Other specialist reps

Branches often appoint reps to deal with specific issues.

Casehandler

These are reps who support and advise members with personal cases from across the sector, not just within their own branch.

Communications rep

A communications rep will provide the information members need to play an active role in the union. They will support national and regional campaigns and help create a positive image for the branch among members, potential members and the public.

They will produce or lead on the development of  newsletters, circulars , bulletins and digital communication for distribution to branch members and update the branch’s e-branch (alongside the e-branch administrator if there is one).

Environmental rep

These reps act as a conduit between management and members. Their aim is to raise awareness and participate in initiatives to minimise consumption, optimise resources, source materials sustainably and dispose of waste responsibly. They also participate in formal and informal organisational structures.

Equalities rep

These reps play a crucial role, pressing employers to create fairer workplaces for all.

Their duties can include raising awareness of the work the union and the branch do around equality, and working with branch officers to analyse information about the employer’s equality performance such as audit agreements, equal pay surveys etc.

Prospect provides training on issues such as discrimination law, equal pay audits, neurodiversity and unconscious bias.

Health and safety rep

These reps engage with managers and members in order to protect and promote colleagues’ health, safety and wellbeing. They do this though a range of activities, including attending meetings of the health and safety committee, providing feedback on working methods and documentation, carrying out inspections, advising members and campaigning.

Find out more about health and safety reps

Pensions rep

These reps act as a point of contact for members’ pension queries. Pensions is a detailed and technical area so their role is often to direct members to the appropriate workplace or union contact if they cannot answer the query themselves. They also work to raise the profile of pension issues in their branch.

Young workers’ rep

These reps are aged 35 and under. They usually work with young workers in their branches to understand the issues they face. The young workers’ rep will engage with a broad cross section of the union including their branch, other young workers’ reps and Prospect’s full-time young workers’ organiser to support with the issues that arise.

This role is often a stepping stone into other positions in the branch and the wider union. If you’re interested, it will allow you to see much of what the union does will give you the space to figure out what you want to do within the union.

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