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The 7 reasons why Trade Unions need an online community

In the current climate, dominated by AI, the future of work has never been more uncertain. Add a cost-of-living crisis that has already seen two-thirds of the UK cut non-essential costs and 37% of US adults saying their finances have been hit, and there's no doubt that job security, fair pay and equitable treatment are at the forefront of people's concerns - Trade Unions are as important as ever. But what is a Trade Union without an engaged community? And why does a digital platform make all the difference?

Here we look at some of the benefits an online platform can offer a Trade Union:

1. Improved Strike Awareness

It’s ludicrous that the police seem to know more about when and where strikes are happening compared to Union members. Members find it difficult to find out about strikes happening in the local area and how to get involved. Union reps often find themselves using Facebook, Twitter, and outdated mailing lists to notify members about a strike.

A dedicated Trade Union app allows members to search for and join discussion groups that are relevant to them (based on region & sector). Members then receive push notifications with updates regarding strikes based on the groups they’ve joined. This allows strikers from different groups to search for one another, connect and combine forces.

2. Local Leadership Identification

Until now, Union reps have found it challenging to organise a strike because they struggle to identify leaders in a specific location.

A dedicated Trade Union app collects data on who the most engaged members are. All of these insights are instantly available in an analytics dashboard. At a glance, reps can highlight the most engaged members, connect with them and organize action.

3. Enhanced Data Privacy

Members are often reluctant to relinquish their personal emails, work emails, and telephone numbers.

A dedicated Trade Union app offers the appropriate level of anonymity while guaranteeing that only legitimate members can join to fight the common cause. All of the data on the platform is owned by the Union - not the employer, Facebook or another third party. 

4. Extending Strikes, Rallies, and Pickets

A strike can bring people together for a day, a week, a month, or longer, but an online community can extend its impact once everyone has left the picket line. Why not create a space where attendees can collaborate and converse before and after they’ve marched with placard in hand? Why not keep those debates and conversations running until an agreement has been reached, keeping the conversation alive and relevant? This approach can strengthen attendance at strikes – generating interest, demonstrating value, and keeping the cause front of mind. It creates a constant line of open communication with your members – which brings us to our next point.

5. The Alternatives

Union reps struggle to connect with members using traditional methods such as mailing lists, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Email doesn’t work because so often it lands in junk and goes unread. Facebook has toxic connotations, having influenced elections and been central to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so many people have opted to leave the platform. Bots account for around 29% of the content on Twitter; in fact, it’s now such a problem that Elon Musk is considering implementing a paywall. WhatsApp has design flaws which mean it creates a deluge of notifications (often at the wrong time of day), so people switch them off. People are also nervous about speaking freely in WhatsApp groups because the approval process is rarely rigorous, and informants may be present.

6. Enhanced Moderation

Traditional digital options (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.) often become a toxic environment to discuss action due to the limited moderation functionality on offer. Moderation normally falls to Union reps, which is a time-consuming endeavour.

A dedicated CleverYak Trade Union app integrates next-generation AI functionality to keep conversations on track and automatically moderate conversations, saving Union reps precious time.

7. Boosting Member Engagement for Votes

The average Union has less than 10% of their claimed membership turn out to vote for a General Secretary. This is abysmally low and largely due to poor communication.

There’s a huge opportunity to improve member engagement through a dedicated app (push notifications, scheduled posts, livestreams etc). We want to see turnout rates soar at Unions who have apps powered by CleverYak.

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