Building trade union value via resilient digital infrastructures

DateAugust 2022

By Jeremy Jalie, Business Development Director at Silverbear

Over recent months, the media’s spotlight has been shining brightly over trade unions and their work across multiple UK sectors. However, a recent article by TUC Digital Lab, entitled We Demand Beta: Digital responses to the cost-of-living crisis, shone a light on a different aspect of trade union management.

The article, which was prepared after members of various trade unions gathered as part of a workshop, explored trade union membership against the backdrop of rising inflation and the growing cost of living. In fact, it specifically addressed what trade unions should be focussing on in order to help their members effectively deal with the cost-of-living crisis that we as a nation now face.

Focusing on a number of potential pain points for trade union members including ‘how do I pay my bills?’, ‘what happens if I get into debt?’, and ‘what support is there for me?’, the workshop culminated in a number of initiatives designed to alleviate the financial burden that trade union members may be facing.

The concept of energy partnerships, whereby union members commit to switching supplier en-masse in order to strengthen their bargaining power with energy companies, is inspired. So too is ‘the Costco run’, a way in which to help branches organise large-scale procurement events in order to secure cheaper items via bulk buying.

Yet this was only from a select number of people.

Strength in numbers

The question I had, therefore, was how many more great ideas could have been gathered had more people been part of the workshop?

Of course, collective power lies at the very heart of trade unionism so I’ll leave all that effective trade union management entails to the experts. Equally, physically getting together every member from every trade union would be impossible.

However, building digital strategies and arming trade unions with the tools they require to deliver them is our area of expertise. With over 4.2 million members under the management of Silverbear 365, our proprietary membership CRM platform built on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, we’ve built a tool that can quickly and efficiently mobilise large swathes of people and provide a platform on which thoughts and ideas can be quickly shared.

Given the pace at which trade union action has been building over recent days and weeks, particularly within the transport and waste sectors, the value of effective membership CRM and its ability to organise, communicate and inform has never been clearer.

A trade union’s second biggest asset

If a trade union’s members are its biggest asset, then its digital infrastructure - the means by which it communicates with its membership - is undoubtedly a close second. After all, having the largest membership by itself means very little if there is no way in which to inform, engage and leverage it.

As TUC Digital Lab’s recent article highlights, there are many trade union members with many great ideas. However, in order to build on those ideas and unlock the door to gaining more insights, more knowledge, and more ideas, you need to be able to join the digital dots in an efficient and meaningful way. In our view, membership CRM is not only a way in which to achieve this, but it’s also a way in which to futureproof trade unions.

As we’ve written about before, trade unions without a digital footprint are vulnerable. This is the message that we’ll be taking to this year’s TUC Congress, where we’ll be showcasing Silverbear 365 and illustrating its benefits to trade union organisations and the members that comprise them.

Attendees wishing to find out more about Silverbear 365 and how it can be used to build trade union value can find us at stand 52.  

Logo - Bear only Get in touch