2015 turned out to be yet another difficult year for Surrey UNISON, with many of us suffering from ill health. I had a heart attack in August taking me out of action for a few months.
Two years ago at an AGM I had remarked upon the premature deaths of Ian MacDonald (our ex-branch secretary) and Bob Crow (RMT Rail, Maritime and Transport Union General Secretary) and had told members to look after themselves – then I turned 50 and had a life-threatening incident myself. It makes you think. I have made some major changes in my life since. I have stood down as Branch Secretary (handing over to the extremely capable Jane Armitage). I will be playing more of a supportive, mentoring role to the branch officer team. I have also stepped down as SCCTU (Surrey County Council Trade Unions) Secretary. Last year saw the election of a majority Tory government and the local Tories swept the board in Surrey’s local council elections. 2016 is certainly not going to get any easier. On the other hand we have seen the election of the most socialist-thinking Labour Party leader for decades, Jeremy Corbyn – someone that UNISON will be very pleased to work with on combatting the austerity programme. Last year saw a further wide range of restructures and reorganisations (a permanent feature of local government now). I was involved in supporting members in Trading Standards, the Library Service, SCC Environment & Infrastructure, Surrey Choices, Schools, FE Colleges and more. As we write, we are in the midst of pay negotiations with SCC over the whole ‘Pay and Reward’ package for 2016 and beyond (SCC are looking at some major potential changes). I am very proud that we have managed to establish a regular Union Reps Forum with SCC to discuss Pay and other issues. We will ballot all members on Surrey Pay with any final offer from the council. I am also involved in negotiations and consultation with Surrey Choices and the Surrey FE Colleges over pay and trade union recognition issues. FE Colleges are currently balloting over the 0% pay offer for last year. Watch this space.
This article continues in the Annual Report.