The two winners of the awards, David Stalley (Rep of the Year) and Marcia DeCruz (Officer of the Year) both demonstrated the extent to which local activists really are the bedrock of the union. They make the difference as to whether members feel supported, are well organised and develop the collective confidence to improve their working lives.
David's work in fighting off an academisation proposal and Marcia's support for supply teachers across West Sussex (including radio and TV appearances) have made a real difference, both to the members they worked with and to the capacity of the union in their local areas. They also provide an example to new activists across the union of how we can both support members and deepen our roots in workplaces and the local community.
The regional council also discussed the concerns of some members about how the new National Organising Forums and national Member Advisory Panels which have replaced Advisory Committees will work. Key concerns include:
- How will members of the Member Advisory Panels be chosen?
- How will discussion be facilitated within panels that include in excess of 1000 members?
- How will the work of the National Organising Forums and Member Advisory Panels be reported back to Regional Councils?
- How will issues that arise in the Regional Councils be raised within these National Organising Forums and Member Advisory Panels?
- Will any areas of work receive less attention under the new structures?
I am firmly of the belief that these new structures, involving as they do significantly greater numbers of activists and particularly serving teachers, will enhance the democracy of the union, and I have undertaken to get more information on the areas of concern and report back to the Regional Council.
The Regional Council also discussed the new draft constitution for Regional Councils and made some amendments before adopting it. Significantly, we returned union campaigns to the list of responsibilities, strengthened the wording for the voluntary levy on local associations and clarified that the new structure would have increased representation of to delegates for the first 500 members and one delegate for each additional 500 members or part thereof. This should significantly increase representation on, and therefore involvement in, the Regional Council.