What is a steward and how to become one?

What is a steward?

A steward is an official representative of the Institute who represents all Institute members in a designated area. The Steward should be the first contact with the members on behalf of the Institute.

Stewards are volunteers. As such, they choose the scope of their own activities and the time spent on these activities, based upon their experience, skills and availability.

The Responsibilities of a Steward

Stewards should circulate information intended for Institute members, keep bulletin boards for Institute use in the workplace updated with current information, know where to obtain answers to questions regarding the workplace and the collective agreement, meet new employees and tell them about the Institute and recruit Rand deductees.

They also assist in the interpretation and promotion of Institute policies and programs, act as advisors to members and are the first link between the members and the Institute. They provide a channel of communication between local management and the Institute. They also serve as a link between members and management.

The steward's most important responsibility is to ensure that the provisions contained in the collective agreement are adhered to and applied by the employer. The steward must deal with complaints, advise members on their right to file a grievance and represent the member in meetings with management. However, the Institute's presence in the workplace is evident in other ways; the steward, as a bridge to management, helps the Institute make its views known to the Employer.

Area of Jurisdiction

As a general rule, the area of jurisdiction is the city where the steward works. In special cases, areas of jurisdiction may vary. For example, an Institute Director would have regional jurisdiction as he/she travels across the region to meet with members and deal with management.

The Application Process

Members wishing to become stewards should fill out the Steward Application Form. Members wishing to become stewards will become stewards-in-waiting until they complete the basic steward training course after which they will be appointed as stewards.

The Approval Process

Once the Steward Coordinator receives an application form, it is scanned and e-mailed to the chairs of the Sub-Group (where applicable), the Regional Executive, and the Branch as well as to the appropriate PIPSC Regional Office to obtain their input. These people are the most likely to know the applicant and can provide valuable insight into the advisability of appointment.

The application is also forwarded to the Group chair (or chief steward), along with any comments received from the above-mentioned chairs. Since the Group Executive is the only body that can make a recommendation to the President, comments are extremely useful, especially in cases where the Group chair or chief steward do not know the applicant. In the case of a steward being elected by the members in her/his worksite, the Group is advised of the election results, and the recommendation process is bypassed. Bear in mind that the President always makes the final decision on steward appointments.

Interested? Here is what you need to do.

If you are interested in becoming a workplace contact or a steward (or know someone who is), ensure the appropriate application form(s), available from any PIPSC office, from the PIPSC Web site or from a PIPSC Steward, are filled out and sent to the PIPSC Steward Coordinator who will process them and send out the steward material once approval is completed.