What a Year!
My second blog shows what kind of year this has been for us, as trade unionists.
In my first blog, I was talking about our diminishing membership and about how we must arrest this decline as a matter of urgency.
As I pen my second, we have had two new Prime Ministers. But that's not the only change - we are experiencing an almost unprecedented wave of recruitment that has put us on course to exceed our North West target of 25,000 members!
Why? The answer seems obvious – workers join wherever we prove ourselves to be a campaigning union: visible in workplaces and fighting collectively to improve our working conditions.
Seven of our ten highest recruiting branches are from the health service group. The other three are engaged in live disputes after successful ballots (such as AQA and MMU).
And we’re showing members that collective power can win. Our victory in the dispute with OCS has seen out-sourced members achieve the same as NHS colleagues, not just on pay but also on annual leave, public holiday payments and – importantly – sick pay!
We need to double down on our efforts to deliver a mandate for strike action in our NHS. This isn’t just a fight for those who work in the NHS – that’s why I’ve been organising campaign sessions for activists from other service groups.
Meanwhile, we need to work on turning these gains into real worker power.
These disputes have brought many potential activists to the fore who will now need support to become the future leaders we need.
That’s why I’ve been advocating for a clearer pathway for developing both new and existing activists. The Branch Secretary seminars will also be key, to strengthen the support that we get in our branches.
In the meantime, I’d strongly encourage all activists to sign up to our ‘organising convention’, Skills for Strength: https://www.unisonnw.org/skills_for_strength_2023
As the storm clouds gather, let’s finish this year as a growing union and let’s start 2023 as a region ready to fight – and win – the battles ahead.
Hi, my name’s Joanne Moorcroft and I’m the new Regional Convenor of UNISON North West.
First, a bit about me.
I am from the generation when the first thing you were told to do when you started work was to find the shop steward and sign up to the union. In my case it was my shop steward dad who made sure I did that.
I joined Cheshire Police in around 2008 and became a steward for my department when our steward moved into a full time officer role. As a steward I became very active from the start and was a delegate for regional council and a member of the publicity and Campaigning Committee and Labour Link Officer for the Branch.
Since becoming a branch sec I have been coerced into standing as a town and borough councillor and for my sins I am the current town mayor.
Being a councillor was not an aspiration of mine, but the borough I cover comes under UNISON Cheshire West local govt branch and I felt it almost my duty to stand. The branch had faced years of Tory cuts until Labour took control in 2015 and we fought hard to return Labour control.
My experiences in my branch, on the council, and on the Organising Academy have given me the firm belief that UNISON should be first and foremost an organising union that seeks to empower the membership to fight to protect and advance their interests. This is what made me stand to be Regional Convenor.
It's a real honour to follow the inspirational Glen Williams as North West Regional Convenor.
This year remains one of challenge - from the climate emergency and cost of living rises impacting on us all to the post-Brexit and post-Pandemic settlements which directly impact how we deliver quality public services and are remunerated for doing so.
The multiple crises we face in health and social care, local government funding, education, housing, policing, and utilities all provide reasons why we need to mobilise and organise our membership and demonstrate that we need robust responses to these issues.
Our membership is ageing and diminishing and so a significant priority has to be arresting this decline whilst empowering our existing activists as we support and develop our newer members.
The great work our regional team of members, activists and staff through the significant disputes and campaigns we are engaged on demonstrate that this is achievable and that we can grow our membership.
The North West already has a proud record of doing this through its strategic campaigning and organising in social care, Health Care Assistant re-banding and the numerous disputes we have driven to successful conclusion.
Our interventions and campaigning around challenging racism, homophobia and misogyny demonstrate the breadth and scope of our activism. In the Year of the Disabled Worker our activists continue to highlight discriminatory practice, advocate for appropriate treatment and influence decision-makers.
Our local branches must be supported to continue to meet the challenges faced by them and their members particularly in the current cost of living crisis and hostile (employers and govt) environment that workers find themselves in.
These are clear reasons why I believe that the North West is on the right track to face the challenges ahead and deliver a vibrant, engaged and active membership - one that I am privileged to lead.