A paid employee of a trade union who is involved in the representation of union members. There are several thousand full-time officers in the UK and they play a key role in the industrial relations system, recruiting and organizing union members, representing individuals at tribunals and in company procedures, and conducting negotiations with employers. Full-time officers may be elected from the membership, but in most cases they are appointed and play a role in trade unions akin to that of the civil service; they provide expert support, skills, and knowledge and are formally subordinate to elected conferences, committees, and lay officers. In reality, FTOs play a central and often dominant role within unions. Their job titles are highly variable and their functions also can vary, with some specializing in recruitment and organizing, whilst others concentrate on collective bargaining. FTOs are organized hierarchically with the general secretary at the apex and district, regional, or divisional officers/organizers at the base. Some people prefer the term ‘paid officer’, to reflect the fact that a proportion of union employees, especially women, work part-time. [See organizer and union bureaucracy.]
Subjects: Human Resource Management.