As I begin my new role as Regional Convenor, I want to pay tribute to the work of my predecessor, Angie Rayner MP. Angie worked tirelessly for the union and I am sure she will be a great representative of her constituents in Ashton-under-Lyne.
I’m grateful to everybody who supported me to become your Regional Convenor. Angie is a difficult act to follow, and this is a difficult time for us all. Following the general election result, we must anticipate five more years of attacks on our communities, our public services and our movement. We all need to be ready to face these challenges and defend the social protections and rights that previous generations fought so hard to build up.
My background is in local government, while my partner works in the health service and I believe that the challenges we face as a union will require us to work together across service groups. As Regional Convenor, I had the opportunity to attend the recent meeting of all the Cumbria branches – from local government, health, police and HE – where there was a great spirit of togetherness and a willingness to work constructively. We will need more of this – especially as devolution initiatives cut across established geographical and service area boundaries.
I want to help activists to get involved in the union at regional level. It is important that our democratic structures and forums are easily-understandable and welcoming to new activists. I want every activist in our region to be able to play a full part in the vibrant life of our union.
The political environment in which we operate is hard and getting harder. We are facing attacks on our ability to operate as an organisation through the Trade Union Bill. But the need for effective trade unionism has never been greater. We are needed more than ever and it is up to us all to rise to the challenge.