What is your role in the branch?
Hello, I’m Tom Kistell and I’m the Environmental Officer, also known as the Green Rep. My role is to be the Committee member responsible for everything to do with environmental sustainability, hearing what people have to say about it, matching up members with training and networking opportunities, and leading on UNISON’s efforts locally to help Sheffield Hallam become a more sustainable organisation.
How and why did you become involved in UNISON?
I’ve been involved with the union for more than half my life by this point! I first joined when I was still at school, while I was working in a sports centre run by my local council. One of the longstanding UNISON stewards there spoke about the need for all workers to be trade union members, even “young pups”, and his words stuck with me. I joined in each place where I worked after that and, by the time I came to Sheffield Hallam, I wanted to contribute more as an activist. I’ve been a steward, a workplace contact, and now an officer here.
What issues do you feel trade unions should be focusing on?
Obviously, I’m going to say climate action because it’s a theme that relates to everything else. I can’t say enough about that in a few words here, but I’m always happy to talk about it with anyone who’s interested. Other headline issues for me are work intensification, staff wellbeing, real-terms pay cuts, issues faced by parents and carers, and the barriers that people from poorer backgrounds encounter at work. We need to recruit more of our colleagues as members, too. If there are UNISON members in every team, then we’re in a much better position to push for positive change in the University and beyond.