What is your role in the branch?
I’ve been a member of Unison since I first joined SHU. I’ve been a Rep / Shop Steward for the last 3 years, and I’ve recently become the Membership Officer a few weeks ago.
How and why did you become involved in UNISON?
I’ve always recognised the importance of Trade Unions, and I’ve seen first-hand how essential they are in previous work before joining Sheffield Hallam in 2011, so it was an easy decision to join a union here too. I became a Rep / Shop Steward three years ago when my department went through its latest restructure. It’s the 4th I had been through since joining SHU, and so I’ve seen first-hand how stressful, difficult and unpleasant they can be for so many of my colleagues. This restructure was looking like it may be particularly brutal, and I decided I should do what I can to support everyone in the department by becoming more active in the Union
What issues do you feel trade unions should be focussing on?
All the issues the Trade Unions deal with are vital and worthy of focus, but if I had to highlight a few at the moment, I would say in the short-term Pay is the most obvious and pressing issue in light of the wider political and economic climate in the country. Ordinary people have been made to foot the bill for the incompetence and corruption of the last thirteen years, and they face more difficult financial circumstances and greater hostility from the current government than they have for decades. It is heartening to see so many of our friends in Unison and many other unions are finding a renewed voice and courage to stand up for themselves and demand fairness and justice.
In the slightly longer term, I personally think two key issues are Workers’ Rights and Climate Change. The government looks determined to severely curtail our workers’ rights when the EU law Revocation and Reform Bill comes into action at the end of December 2023 and could see the end of essential rights for all of us that we’ve all been protected by for many years. Regarding Climate Change, which unions are becoming ever more active on, if we don’t take drastic action to address the catastrophe we’re currently heading towards, then all other issues will pale in comparison, and again, it will be us ordinary people who suffer. Those with power always ensure their own survival and comfort at our expense. The importance of people coming together to make a united stand has never been more urgent.