Today I was fortunate to have an invite to a Trade Union group plus work management (Staff side) meeting as an observer. This is something that I have never done before so was very privileged to be able to take part. Doing such things virtually is always interesting and the only downside was that for two of the three meetings the sound was very robotic and like the Smash adverts in quality. Despite adjusting settings and trying different set ups this continued but nevertheless it was a really interesting day, with a pre meet, the actual meeting and a debrief following this.
Being part of a union is something I have always done, being in a profession that always needs someone on your side and an advocate in times of trouble or to sign post you in times of need. I think in my profession unions are often seen as someone to go to when you have a grievance or disagreement but they are so much more than that. My particular union provides a fantastic learning platform and is non political which adds a different perspective to change management and current issues.
In my early career I was in different unions and also often accompanied junior colleagues to grievance meetings or supported them through times of racial discrimination which was sad to see people go through. This often mean’t speaking out on their behalf, being a friend as well as a boss if they had been treated unfairly, overlooked for promotion opportunities and the like. I also was supported by my union when I had been overpaid through no fault of my own which was very helpful.
In recent years, I have become more interested in staff well being, inclusion, and development and got invited to become a union steward. The training has been incredible as well as the support from national colleagues and work union colleagues. I am thoroughly enjoying the role and despite the lockdown putting paid to some of my foundation module training, I am gaining experience in getting a network of colleagues in the fellow unions, and joining meetings such as the one today and am loving every minute!