I’ve been so proud to serve as your General Secretary for 20 years. It has been the honour and privilege of my life to be able to represent our incredible public service workers from across our four nations, and never more so than in the last few difficult months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today I have advised the President that I will retire on 31 December 2020 when my current period of office comes to an end. In order to comply with trade union law, our NEC Development and Organisation Committee will meet this week to discuss a timetable to elect my successor and full details will be published once that is agreed. But I wanted you, the leading members of our union, to hear the news directly from me.
We have been through some tough times together. We’ve brought our union through the long years of austerity where we saw our public services decimated with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. But we stayed strong and we built the union.
We are now the largest union in the UK and the fastest-growing union in Europe. We have a vibrant lay democracy with activists like you in more than 50,000 workplaces. Our finances are strong and I hope we are now in a position to channel additional support and resources to our branches – where I truly believe that we organise and support our members best.
Every day for the past 47 years, I have been proud to serve this union and I have always been driven by a belief in fairness and justice for all our members. Never more so than in the past five months when I have seen our members and our public services rise to the challenge of the pandemic. In the worst of all circumstances, I have seen our union at its very best.
New members are joining our union faster than ever before because they value what a strong union can provide – support when they need it, strength to fight for change and a community that means that even in the most worrying times, you are never alone. Our enduring values of caring and solidarity will be more important than ever in the coming years.
As the health crisis turns to an economic crisis, we will face more challenges. I will be here to continue to lead this union until the end of this year – we still have a great deal of work to do together.
It has been my pleasure, my honour and an absolute privilege to lead our union, UNISON.
(Above is my favourite picture of Dave taken on a very wet campaigning day in Chipping Barnet. Hat tip Miriam).