Not many people will dedicate forty years of their life to something, but in UNISON it’s not unusual to meet those who have given decades to their profession, their community and their union.
That’s certainly the case in the Cumbria police branch which I visited on Monday. Branch chair Clive Davidson and branch secretary Len Brown have given so much for their colleagues and their force – especially in such tough times. So it was a pleasure to be at their last AGM as branch officers, to celebrate their years of work and dedication, and see them hand over the branch to a new leadership.
People like Clive and Len are at the heart of what this union is about. Without activists like them, our union could not survive.
Katie Walford – from Cumbria University branch – who I met in Carlisle on Tuesday, is another of that special breed of activist who gives so much and expects so little in return. Her fighting spirit is an inspiration, and her ability to balance representing members with her day job is a lesson to us all that whilst there are only so many hours in a day, what each of us can still achieve in that time is considerable.
And at the Carleton Clinic in Carlisle, Dave Waddington told me that life as an activist is often thankless. He’s right of course. Wherever I go I thank our tremendous members for all that they do for each other. But they can never be thanked enough, because without those of you working tirelessly in your branches, this union would not exist.
You are our union. You are what gives us our strength. And as the government attempts to silence us and limit our ability to campaign, you will be what keeps this union moving forward.