We stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us

I’m covering a lot of miles this week. From the West Midlands to Wales and Scotland, I’m speaking to UNISON members and staff all over the country about where our union goes next in our fight for a better deal for public sector workers.

I’m particularly pleased to be visiting North Wales this afternoon, because whilst I’m there I’ll have the opportunity to pay tribute to former activists who gave so much for our union and its members.

Today we’ll honour former UNISON Cymru Wales activists Clwyd Kelly and Peter Wood. Their work – like that of so many activists who have dedicated years of voluntary service to our union – benefitted a vast number of working people. Naming rooms after them both at the UNISON branch premises on Abergele Business Park in their memory is a testament to the high esteem in which they’re held.

Of course it’s impossible to take part in events such as this without thinking of all of those who I’ve known throughout my time in our union and our movement. Activists who worked tirelessly for their colleagues and comrades, friends who always gave their all to benefit working people and UNISON members who went the extra mile thanks to their belief in collective action, solidarity and all that we can achieve together.

And this evening I’m sure I’ll add some new memories into that mix, as I attend the AGM of our vibrant North Wales Health branch. I know how hard they work, how often they go above and beyond the call of duty and how hard they work for and care for the patients who rely upon them. They’re a huge asset to our union.

But like all of us, they stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before them. The others who gave so much of themselves to our great union. People like Peter and Clwyd, and countless others, who I’ll be remembering today.