Introducing… Dan Grace, Communications Officer and Workplace Rep

What is your role in the branch?

I am a workplace rep for Library and Student Services and the branch communications officer. This means I do casework helping members with issues in Library and Student Support and also oversee communications for the branch, such as email, social media and this newsletter. Members should feel free to contact me in either of these capacities.

How and why did you become involved in UNISON?

I’ve been a UNISON member since 2008. I was a workplace rep in my previous job in Sheffield’s public library service. I decided to become a rep around the time of the implementation of the coalition governments austerity program which saw huge cuts to public library services. I was already involved in campaigning around the cuts and closures and saw becoming a trade union rep as the obvious next step in that fight. I took a break from being a rep when I first moved to Sheffield Hallam due to having a young family and studying commitments but volunteered again last November. Since then I have become the branch communications officer and travelled to Brighton as our branch delegate for the National Delegates Convention.

What issues do you feel trade unions should be focussing on?

In addition to the day-to-day help we provide supporting members, the current cost of living crisis is clearly the most pressing issue for trade unions. Securing an above inflation pay increase is vital as we all face rising bills. In addition to this I think climate change is in urgent need of addressing from a trade union perspective. The two issues are linked of course. Spiralling energy bills show how our system has become incapable of managing a transition to affordable and abundant green energy sources. Any such transition would have to be a fair one for workers, which is why I believe that trade unions have to lead on building a Green New Deal that creates climate jobs for the future. As well as considering what this means for those of us working at Sheffield Hallam, our university should be training the next generation of workers necessary for a green industrial revolution. UNISON and other trade unions need to be leading the way on this, supporting where things are done right, challenging where not enough is being done.