UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC) has elected Josie Bird, a local government worker from Newcastle, as president at the union’s annual national conference in Liverpool.
Josie has been an administrative officer at Newcastle City Council for 18 years and an active member of UNISON for 17 years.
She has served as junior and senior vice president over the past two years and succeeds outgoing UNISON president Gordon McKay.
Josie said: “I’m very excited to be president but it’s a little daunting as Gordon will be a very hard act to follow.
“As far as I know I will be the first president to come through the young members’ structure, so this shows the union’s achievements in succession planning.
“As an activist I have always wanted to support members and people in the workplace generally but I think what I have enjoyed most is the international work. It gives you a much broader perspective and it is important to have a big vision. We believe in building a better world as well as helping the working class people on our doorstep.”
Born in Newcastle, Josie has lived there for most of her life and been chair of the city’s local government branch for around 15 years. She became the young members’ officer only months after joining and branch chair within 18 months.
The activist hopes that during her year-long presidency the union will support Nomadesc. This human rights organization, already backed by UNISON’s northern region, supports indigenous people in Colombia who have been displaced within the country.
Josie will hold the position for a year. She is joined on the presidential team by Sian Stockham from Abergavenny as vice president, and James Anthony, a registered nurse from Birmingham, as junior vice president.