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Monday 22 March 2021

Unions and networks

By Victoria Jones
FDA Equality Officer Victoria Jones on the FDA’s work with departmental or cross-government staff networks.

As a union, we’re clear on our role in supporting members. Those who join have access to advice, support and representation, and also add weight to our collective voice, strengthening our negotiating position. Members build branches and train reps who in turn, recruit members, provide individual case work support and continue to grow the union. 2020 was a record-breaking year for the FDA and we’re proud to be a thriving union that continues to grow.

A huge proportion of our members and reps are also active within departmental or cross-government staff networks too. These networks exist for different reasons – to raise awareness, to lobby for change or to provide networking opportunities for those with similar lived experiences or passions. Often, the work of networks and the work of trade unions overlaps. Disabled civil servants will often discuss barriers to progression with their staff networks. Our disabled members also tell us about what is in their way when it comes to being treated equitably or furthering their careers. We take action, within the parameters of our formal recognition with employers, to remove those unnecessary hurdles.

The conversations we have with employers are underpinned by processes and structures that require ongoing consultation and negotiation on policies that impact both our members, and those who are yet to join. Our position at the table is unique and powerful.

We believe that joining a union is the best way to influence, secure change and address collective issues that prevent the workplace being a positive place for all of our members to thrive. But, where there are problems, we want to know about that so that we can use our voice for good. That’s why we’ve taken the pro-active step to write to all Civil Service Staff Networks to offer a hand of collaboration and solidarity. We’re happy to deliver training, to join meetings and to hear from members and non-members about the equality issues that are having a real impact so that we can improve outcomes and push for progress in 2021.

If you’re an FDA member and are actively involved in a local network and think there is scope for collaboration, do get in touch via equalitymatters@fda.org.uk. Similarly, if you’re the lead for staff network and want to talk about how we can collaborate, get in touch.

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