If fairness at work is important to you, why not become more active in your Union as a Nautilus lay representative? You'll get the chance to speak up for yourself and the rights of your colleagues – talking directly to the people who count at your company.
What is a lay representative?
Lay representatives, also known as lay reps, are members of the Union who represent their colleagues in Union work in companies that have a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Nautilus. The Union can also accredit liaison officers – one particular type of lay rep – in companies where there is no CBA.
Lay reps are either elected by their colleagues or are volunteers. They play a vital role in the Union's company negotiations and provide support for colleagues in their workplace. Some can provide advice on basic employment rights, and all help to strengthen the Union by recruiting colleagues to become Nautilus members.
Lay rep responsibilities
Nautilus has four types of lay representatives across its three branches, who are selected in different ways through formal or informal processes.
- Liaison officers (UK branch)
- Partnership at Work (PAW) delegates (UK branch)
- Kaderleden – Dutch lay reps (Netherlands branch)
- Vertrauensleute – 'trusted people' (Swiss branch)
Liaison officers are nominated and elected, and Partnership at Work (PAW) delegates are either elected or volunteer for the role. Senior executives have a less formal role, but carry out many of the same functions as their UK counterparts.
Liaison officers can formally represent members at negotiations, disciplinary hearings and grievance hearings, whilst PAW delegates are mainly communicators of information from the employer and Union to the members. They can assist liaison officers in their role – possibly with the intention of becoming liaison officers themselves in the future.
Under UK law, liaison officers (similar to shop stewards in other industries) are entitled to benefits and facilities in order to undertake their role, and PAW delegates also receive a degree of support and protection.
In the UK, the type of lay representative you are will be dependent upon which type of committee has been established with your employer through Nautilus. Some agreements will include liaison officer committees, while others will have PAW committees, and a few have both.
Lay representatives work under the direction of the full-time industrial organisers and are fully integrated into the structure of Nautilus and its Council – covered under Rule 23.
UK Liaison officers are nominated and elected, while UK Partnership at Work (PAW) delegates are either elected or volunteer for the role. The Union can also accredit UK liaison officers in companies where there is no CBA.
The Nautilus lay reps system in the Netherlands differs from that of the UK branch. Their appointments are less formal than in the UK, and an indication of interest from a member can mean they are immediately appointed. They carry out many of the same functions as their UK counterparts, or an individual Dutch lay rep may be appointed for the duration of a particular project.
Kaderleden can also be asked to join officials in meetings with companies, to provide officials with details of companies or issues within a company, or to serve as an intermediary between colleagues and the Nautilus Netherlands branch.
The Swiss branch also has a less formal structure, with a smaller number of lay reps known as vertrauensleute. Currently there are four members from four different companies within the inland navigation sector, including rivercruise, who serve for four years. All are members of the Union's Swiss National Committee and they are also involved in CBA negotiations.
How do you become a lay rep?
If there's a vacancy for a lay rep in your workplace, Nautilus officials will let you and your colleagues know, and then you'll either stand for election or simply volunteer, depending on the situation at your company. UK lay reps serve for a fixed term, normally three years.
Lay reps are fully supported by the Union in their role. Regular free training is provided throughout the year for novice and experienced lay reps on how to support your colleagues in the workplace, and you'll work closely with the Organising department at Nautilus.
As well as the highly-regarded Nautilus training sessions, lay reps can attend accredited courses held by external bodies, including the TUC and UnionLearn. We also regularly gather feedback from our lay reps and act to address their concerns and requirements, and develop our courses in response to these views.
If you are a Nautilus lay representative, please log in to the Members area for additional information and materials to help you in your role. Your allocated industrial organiser is also always available to advise and guide you.