A Day of Evacuations!

This year I am the UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside Delegate to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Conference 2017 – a first for me!

My journey to this years TUC in Brighton took me firstly to London; specifically Victoria Tube Station. Sadly as I arrived a passenger was fatally struck by a train on the northbound Victoria Line service, which caused an emergency evacuation that I was caught up in.

I’m sure you’ll agree that our thoughts have to go to the individuals loved ones and of course the train driver who will have no doubt been deeply effected by the incident.

It is sadly ironic that an hour earlier I had updated our UNISON branch social media about the fact the day was World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 including links to where people can get help and support. I’ve no information to confirm the incident was suicide, but quite often such incidents are.

If that was not enough I then arrived in Brighton with colleagues and trade unions from across the country and indeed the world for the start of the TUC Conference.

Towards the end of conference we were evacuated by the police and venue staff due to what we now know was a credible bomb threat to the Grand Hotel adjoining the conference centre. The weather was appalling as we made our way outside of the police cordons and road closures – many scattering to nearby local establishments!

We managed to get back to the hotel gone 10pm after police and bomb disposal had conducted a thorough search. I was not staying at the Grand, but my hotel was within the police cordon.

Statement by Sussex Police

The police and staff were this morning commended at the start of TUC Conference for the professional and calm manner they evacuated the area and kept everyone safe.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan comes to Hull

I was honoured to attend the Wilberforce Lecture this weekend presented by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at Hull City Hall.

This was part of Hull’s Freedom Festival; an annual arts festival in Hull that was established in 2007 to mark the 200th anniversary of Hull MP William Wilberforce’s law to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

Kofi Annan gave an inspirational speech and took questions from the floor. A member of the audience asked Kofi Annan if he had a message for Donald Trump given the ongoing hurricane disaster they are facing in America, to which Kofi Annan replied “I think a more powerful message has been sent from a more powerful force”.

Kofi Annan spoke about leadership and gave some inspirational words of wisdom, but one thing he said really stuck with me. He said “just because you can’t intervene in every crisis it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t intervene in those you can”. I think this is highly relevant to us working extremely hard in the union and across our struggling public services.

Another great event in Hull for our 2017 City of Culture and 2017 Freedom Festival. Proud to be a part of it!

My First UNISON NEC!

In June I was elected as the Yorkshire and Humberside male seat representative on UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC). This is the first time I have stood to be a member of our NEC, so I am sure you can understand when I say I am quite proud to have won the election! I am extremely grateful to those members who voted for me and to those branches who nominated me. I hope I can increase both next time.

This election saw a big shake up of the NEC with a lot of new members being elected, replacing some experienced members of our union such as our own Wendy Nichols who has been a formidable voice for our members on the NEC for some time.

Elected Presidential Team 2017-19

The first meeting of the 2017-2019 NEC was immediately following the National Delegate Conference in Brighton in June. This meeting was to elect our lay presidential team for the next two years. I was pleased that Margaret McKee was elected President, Gordon McKay was elected Senior Vice-President and Josie Bird was elected Junior Vice-President.

Margaret has been a catering assistant at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for 38 years. She has been an activist for most of that time as well as Joint Chair of her branch for the past 10 years. She was also awarded the TUC women’s gold badge at the 2016 Congress in recognition of her union and community work. Gordon is from UNISON’s Ayrshire and Arran Health Branch and has worked as a Mental Health Nurse for 30 years. Josie is Branch Secretary of the Newcastle City Branch and has been employed as an administrative officer in Newcastle for 16 years. You may also know her from her work on the Finance Committee. 

First NEC Meeting

The first full NEC meeting was on Tuesday 4th July at the UNISON Centre in London. The first part of the day was made up of appointing members of the NEC to a number of strategic and functional committee’s. I was selected by the Presidential Team to serve on the Staffing Committee and Development and Organisation Committee. 

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The second and last part of the day was to hear the General Secretary report, which was presented by Dave Prentis. He spoke about how members have been suffering under the public sector pay cap and how the public debate should not only be framed around our uniformed emergency services, but around all public sector workers; many of whom are often not seen.

You can see more details here: Union gears up for a summer of campaigning

The General Secretary took a number of questions from members of the NEC, although some were statements rather than questions. I do hope to see less personal statements and more focus from some NEC members next time so we can concentrate on representing our 1.3 million members.

I am in the process of writing to UNISON branches across Yorkshire and Humberside to let them know how I intend to communicate with members over the next two years to keep them updated on my NEC activities. I also welcome invitations from branch committees to speak and take questions.

Tony Green