COVID-19, Collective Voice and Our Region's Challenges

A very warm welcome to all UNISON North West activists on behalf of your new Regional Secretariat. Never has there been a greater need for our collective voice to be heard in and outside of our union.

On behalf of your Regional Secretariat, I would like to pay tribute to the incredible work you are doing during this pandemic, pay respect to those who tragically have died as a result of COVID-19 and reassure you that we will do everything possible to ensure there is no ‘return to normal’ that means low pay, pay freezes, job cuts, austerity and sustained attacks on public sector workers.

I would like to thank all who voted and nominated in the Regional Secretariat election as well as saying a big thank you to Rena Wood who stepped in to cover the role when the previous holder, Paula Barker, went into semi-retirement and became an MP (joking of course!).

I was elected as Regional Convenor on a commitment ‘to create a powerful, long-term secretariat and bring forward well-trained and fresher activists to take their rightful place at the top of our region’. The creation of this long-term succession planning has already begun since taking up the post on 12th May with officers and your new secretariat.

As a practising social worker and branch secretary who holds various regional and national elected positions alongside your regional secretariat who bring with them incredible knowledge and skills, I truly believe our region and our regional secretariat team are well-placed to lead during these Covid19 challenges and beyond. Wherever you work, whatever the service group or sector, our region will seek to operate on a collective, all-inclusive and transparent basis. We will disagree, of course, but I hope we will also continue putting members, branches and our region at the heart of what we do and be simultaneously comradely and supportive.

No branch is an island (okay I accept the Isle of Man is but you get the point!) and your new secretariat will be looking to work constructively with all of you on our shared organising agenda, our regional action plan and priorities with all branches irrespective of size, status or geography. Our regional plans and priorities are matters we agree and they are not imposed ‘from above’ – we always seek activists’ views and that will continue. How we seek your views and communicate with you is already being examined and your thoughts on how to improve are always welcome so please get in touch.

As trade union activists we all face enormous challenges such as:

  • COVID-19 and a safe return to work
  • The organising agenda of our union
  • The Branch Resources Review
  • Democratic accountability within our union
  • The status of public sector workers after the pandemic
  • Our relationship with and within the Labour Party

I am sure you will all be able to add many more key issues but the main message from your regional secretariat is that we will work with you, listen, learn and lead and in that order.

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