Aberdeenshire UNISON

Branch Development Seminar May 2013

Communication with members high on the agenda as Branch sets out work plan

Branch Development event
Branch activists think hard at the Branch Development Day

Communicating with members should be central to everything the Branch does, from Service Reviews to protecting members’ pay, pensions, jobs and services.

That was the focus for stewards and Branch Officers as they met together for a Branch Development session on 17th and 18th May.

In a busy and successful event, activists, supported by UNISON organising staff, worked together to draw up a strategy for keeping members informed during Service Reviews and planned out campaigns on the forthcoming pay ballot; on workload stress and overload; and revitalised the campaign to protect support services in schools, which help our most vulnerable children.

Steve Gray, Asst Secretary and Branch Development Organiser said, “This was an excellent, well attended session where we took the opportunity to look at the current priorities for the Branch and to make sure that everyone has a role and knows what that role is. We want to link negotiating, campaigning and communicating with members and with the wider public and we now have agreed strategies to do all of this. And ofcourse, recruitment will be key to everything that the Branch does, as we continue our efforts to increase our membership.”

Dame Ann Begg
Dame Ann Begg, MSP

Dame Anne Begg, MSP, and Chair of the Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions also came along to give a presentation on Welfare Reform and its implications for people on benefits, including those with disabilities. She pointed out that, despite the Westminster Government’s insistence that that aim of the reforms is to “make work pay”, the reality is that many of those who will have their benefits cut are in work. The wider community will suffer as people will have less money to spend on local goods and services.

She spoke of the concerns about the Atos assessments of people applying for Employment and Support Allowance which is increasingly being shown to be not fit for purpose. A lively debate followed,during which the need for the Government to invest in housing, other community infrastructure and people was identified.

Branch Development event
Hard work and political debate at the event

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, “It was great that so many of our core activists could come along. We had a good mix of hard work and the opportunity for some political debate. We have been able to set out clearly a work plan for the coming weeks and months.

“We hope that this will pay dividends in encouraging more people to join the union and more of our members to become more actively involved.

“There has never been a more important time to join a union. We need to defend our hard won rights for the benefit not just of our members but for society as a whole.”