(picture of me and my fantastic fellow UNISON Community NEC comrade, Denise Thomas, at the UNISON centre last year. Denise has also submitted a report on her activities)
Report to Service Group Executive (elected lay UNISON activists in the voluntary sector and housing associations from all over the UK)
I started my previous report to SGE (8 July 2020) by pointing out that the “woeful performance” by the Government during the Covid-19 emergency shows us what a disaster the 2019 General election was for workers. The continual failure of the Government to rise to the challenge of the pandemic has done nothing to change my views. It is Community members who are amongst those facing the very worse consequences of this failure. In the Charity sector members face losing their jobs as donations dry up and housing associations impose pay freezes while our vulnerable care workers still face PPE failures.
Once again I thank our UNISON activists and staff for all their professionalism and hard work in support of our members.
Since lockdown my role as an NEC member has been very different this year compared to others. No National Delegate Conference and no physical meetings. However, we have got on with the business of the union as best we can. While my clear preference is for face to face meetings, video conferencing has worked far better than I anticipated. I expect in a Covid free future for all meetings to be in some way “blended” – virtual and physical.
My activity since the last SGE-
Policy Development and Campaigns Committee 14 July 2020
I had a work clash for the majority of the meeting (which went on for 90 minutes after its end time) It is ironic that sometimes it is more difficult to attend virtual meetings since if you have no travelling time built into your calendar then you have no slack for meetings overrunning. At the PDCC the meeting did get the chance to talk about important issues such as TUC congress motions; campaigns and consultations.
Message from General Secretary 13 July 2020
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.
This was a really positive, constructive and emotional meeting. Our General Secretary, Dave Prentis announcing his retirement and the election for a new GS. Check out
I attended Staff Pension trustee meetings (as an NEC employer trustee) and chaired meetings of its investment sub-committee.
As vice chair of the industrial action committee I also approved a number of strikes and other industrial actions including those by Community members.
John Gray Community NEC (General Seat)
(Please email if any questions or comments. If you want Denise or I to present virtually to your branch, SOG or regional meetings then just let us know)