Equity has launched what it claims to be the world’s first online-only trade union branch.
The online branch has been in development for five years and went live this month, allowing Equity members to talk to each other and to put forward motions. Members can create motions with the click of a button, with these then having the potential to go before council and be adopted as Equity policy.
Equity spokesman Martin Brown said the online branch was aimed at members who cannot access a branch locally, such as those who do not live near one or have disabilities.
He said the branch had been “unbelievably” difficult to achieve and added: “While it has been a struggle to replicate online what happens at a real, face-to-face branch meeting we hope that we have managed to create something which can give members a genuine say in their union’s decision-making when they are unable get to their local branch.”
Brown said he believed the branch was live 24 hours a day, and currently had more than 100 members.
The union’s council is giving it a six-month trial period, following which its success will be assessed.
“We don’t know of any other trade union doing this,” Brown said, adding: “We are saying, as far as Equity is aware, it’s a first in the world.”
The online branch is moderated by member Caron Jane Lyon and has a committee of nine Equity members managing it.