The yearly UNISON AGM is an opportunity to take stock of things. It’s like New Years Eve for the union: an opportunity to think of the changes that the branch has navigated through, to celebrate where reps were able to make a difference, and to look forward to continuing to make that difference.
For Gosport Branch, 2016 saw the retirement of long term branch secretary Phil Reynolds who took redundancy as part of the reorganisation of the council. Phil was succeeded by Denise Hudson. Like many employers in the public sector, 2016 was a year where austerity bit even harder; no stranger to UNISON, Denise jumped in with both feet at a difficult time.
“I agreed to take on the huge responsibility of Branch Secretary from Phil Reynolds and this has proved to be a big learning curve. This has only been possible with the full support I receive from my colleagues on the Branch Exec and from Region which I am thankful for. We have a great team not just in the branch exec but at Gosport Borough Council too and I hope UNISON can continue to ensure that members feel represented and supported.
“Since 2010, the government has cut £12.5bn from local services, almost 40% of their funding. Far from exempt, in 2016, Gosport was forced to begin to cut employees and share services with other local councils in Fareham and Portsmouth. At the same time, housing staff faced restructuring as part of a larger review of services that is ongoing into 2017. Finally as one of the branches that volunteered to pilot the process of switching members to direct debit payments, the branch played a key role in defeating the worst aspects of the Trade Union Bill.
“Throughout all this, the branch has held together, maintaining membership, high levels of involvement and working well as a team. Denise outlined:
“My thanks go to all the Branch Officers and Workplace Representatives who work hard on behalf of the members and have given me the support and confidence to take on this role. But we are also always in need of more representatives so if you feel you would like to get involved, please do come and talk to me about what is involved and the training we offer.”
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