ULR Pete is supporting colleagues through difficult times.

Pete Colclough is an Usdaw Union Learning Rep (ULR) working the night shift in the Tesco’s Jubilee Way store in Mansfield. Pete became a ULR about a year ago and since starting has been supporting colleagues gain digital skills – something which uncovered other issues that Pete’s training in learning has helped with.

Usdaw ULR Pete

When starting Pete’s main aim was to support colleagues with understanding their wage slips and getting on-line but tackling that led to a new initiative on mental health.

Neil Chapman, The Divisional Project Worker explains the background.

Over recent years Tesco have changed the way that colleagues access their wage slips. In the first change, colleagues could receive a paper wage slip or view it on-line. Now they can only use the on-line version. The company have introduced similar on-line processes to order uniforms, book holidays, find company policies and procedures and so on.”

Some staff find this very difficult. Some do not have access to digital devices, broadband or even a phone. Others just don’t have the digital skills or confidence to access on-line services.  Usdaw’s own research shows that access in stores can be limited and that people often ask their partner/ spouse or children to help them. It’s clear that this can be stressful and distressing for staff.  This is the issue that Pete set out to tackle.

Pete said:

I knew that Usdaw’s ‘Understanding your Wage Slips’ Guide would help. It shows people how to access Tesco on-line and has frequently asked question and a user-friendly guide on How To, What To Do etc., if things don’t go to plan”.

Pete talked with his management team and suggested that he run some Understanding your Wage Slips sessions. The store agreed this would benefit colleagues as well as under-pressure wage clerks who are constantly dealing with colleague queries.

Pete said:

I set up sessions with site approval and came in on days to run sessions along with Neil’s support.”

This proved to be a great success with a lot of colleagues attending. Feedback from the senior team was excellent as Pete explained:

These sessions enabled us to talk and discuss other issues that our members had highlighted.”

The feedback showed us a common theme of stress around many different things such as money issues, personal issues, short contracts, flexi contracts, uncertainty. I recognised some of these issues from my own study on a Mental Health Awareness Course so I thought it would be good to raise the issue and let colleagues know help was available.”

Pete then linked up with Neil and Usdaw Equalities Department to arrange a “it’s good to talk event” for people to come and have a chat. This is part of Usdaw’s own mental health campaign to break down the barriers to discussing mental health. Pete got “Mind” the mental health charity to attend the day and promoted a number of Distance Learning courses around the issue of mental health.

Pete was happy with the way the day went:

It is really pleasing to say that the day was a real success. It really broke down barriers. People were struggling and that it was great to see that their union could offer support”.

Pete remembers speaking to one member who spoke about returning to education and doing an Open University course.

10 years ago she was in a really dark place and wasn’t able to complete her schooling. She is in a better place now, even though she recognises the symptoms of depression returning as she is trying to hold down a full-time job and complete a full-time course. We were able to support her and offer advice and she was truly grateful we had been there that day.”

Neil said:

Our learning campaign uncovers many different issues and provides the tools and information for our reps and members to move forward.”

Pete has made a great start here and I know it’s only the beginning.”