Hopefully you will all have seen and heard quite a bit about Keystone by now. But just in case, here is a quick Q & A.
What is Keystone?
Keystone is the new section for staff representing people at HO and SO grade across Government. After one of the best debates in many years at FDA Annual Delegate Conference, delegates decided almost unanimous to expand our union and welcome HO and SO colleagues into the wider FDA family.
Will HO and SO members in HMRC be part of ARC?
Like ARC, Keystone will be a distinct constituency within FDA. Members of Keystone will enjoy an identity as a separate grouping organised as a unified body across the civil service. ARC, on the other hand, is organised as an employer based group working exclusively in HMRC. This means that our new colleagues, whilst being part of FDA will not be members of ARC.
That said, ARC and Keystone are both part of the greater FDA. We would anticipate our existing ARC members working closely with Keystone colleagues in local geographical centres. Members from both parts of FDA in local offices can work out how that will work best in practice but there is no reason why Keystone colleagues cannot be invited to come along to ARC Centre meetings in a non-voting capacity. Indeed as Keystone grows and finds its feet, members of Keystone may want to invite ARC colleagues to their meetings on the same basis.
Will existing HO and SO ARC members have to move to Keystone?
No, there are no plans to change the organisation of any existing part of FDA. Indeed on promotion, to Grade 7 we would anticipate Keystone colleagues moving across to ARC.
Is this about poaching members of any other union?
Absolutely not. The formation of Keystone was decided on by FDA members in response to a demand that many of us know is out there. There are a lot HO and SO colleagues who are not currently members of any union, many of them have asked if they can join us, and those of you who have helped out at FDA Learn events will be particularly aware of this. Those HO and SO colleagues recognise the benefits that come with being a member of FDA
Our reasoning is simple. There is a demand from people who do not currently recognise a union that is attractive to them and which they are eligible to join. We are now giving those people an organisation which speaks for them in the way that they would like to be represented. Fundamentally this is about driving up union density and offering the best service we can to FDA members, new and current, and nothing else.
How will Keystone work?
One of the many strengths of the FDA is our federal structure. This allows sections to retain a strong, separate identity and autonomy in their own sphere of influence whilst remaining an integral part of the wider union. This applies in several places, including ARC and Managers in Partnership (MiP), a unique joint venture between the FDA and Unison, created to support senior managers in the NHS. MiP was set up in 2005 and has nearly doubled in size over a ten-year period.
Keystone will operate in the same way within the FDA’s federal structure and its success will help the union to grow in size and influence, to the benefit of all members.
OK, so how can I help make Keystone a success?
If Keystone is to succeed it needs your help. We want you to be an advocate for Keystone. Talk to friends and colleagues in HO and SO grades, let them know about Keystone and FDA.
We all know HO and SO colleagues who have asked about joining FDA. Many of them feel they are in jobs which are closely aligned to ARC grades and want a focus on professional development as well as member benefits. I know lots of you have already been recruiting – keep up the good work!
The website is at www.wearekeystone.org.uk it’s really helpful and has all the information our new colleagues will need to get started, so just point them in that direction.
If you recruit a colleague, email [email protected] giving the name of our new member and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for an iPad mini. Rebecca can also send you some leaflets and posters for your office.
What if I’ve got questions?
If you can’t find something you need on the website, please contact [email protected].