Since I last wrote we have lost a true friend and comrade to our region- Jean Blevin. Jean was our Regional Treasurer and longstanding health activist known throughout our region and union.
After a short battle, Jean fell victim to cancer in August and we have met regularly with her family, friends and colleagues. When the pandemic allows, we will properly remember the immense work Jean did for our region and union.
I really do hope you are all safe and well at work, at home and in your community. Whilst these are unprecedented times, they are also times in which massive numbers of workers are joining our union. Whilst this can cause significant workload increases in casework and contacts to already overworked branch and regional offices, it should also be seen as recognition that UNISON is the go-to union in this region.
Since taking up the role of Regional Convenor in May, I have been 'going' to as many 'meetings' with different regional service groups, self-organised groups and committees as possible to listen to the issues and discover how they fit into the bigger picture of our union.
Solidarity messages have been sent all over the UK and the globe to people in struggle on behalf of the UNISON North West region, as well as financial support to workers suffering hardship. It is a real pleasure to send these but at the same time a source of anger they are needed at all.
Whilst there can be no going back to 'normal', your region is beginning to get used to the new virtual world. We have held various regional meetings now and accompanying training is being provided for a wide range of activists.
The pandemic has not stopped some rogue employers attacking our members and We Are With You (formerly Addaction) are leading the way in terms of trying to exploit our members. I doubt they expected the steadfast opposition from this brilliant group of workers, who are again on strike with the full backing of our union against their employer's refusal to honour their promise to pay Agenda For Change rates.
We will hopefully all get through this terrible pandemic and I promise to do briefer updates on a more regular basis. My real purpose for writing was to say an enormous thank-you to all involved in raising the profile of our union in this region, it may often go unnoticed but it is never without thanks.
Stay safe and well,