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Building our future as a union

31 March 2014

As you are probably aware, our Executive Committee (EC) is undertaking a root and branch review of everything that our union does.

As I explained in my last article, the overriding priority of this exercise is to maintain our union’s ability to continue to represent you both individually and collectively, to build our membership where possible and to campaign with you to influence external decision makers – be it politicians or employers – whilst seeking to eliminate the deficit that a declining membership has created. This will safeguard our union’s future in the short to medium term.

I am therefore extremely pleased to tell you that our EC has received a significant number of responses to their consultation document on how these crucial changes may be progressed. They will now reflect on these submissions before a final document is circulated for discussion at our conference in May. I want to thank each and every one of you who has participated in this very important process – your ongoing input is vital if we are to get this right. The reality is that our union can no longer afford to keep doing things as we have always done them. Put simply, change is not an option – it is a pressing necessity!

For example, following the recent introduction of online joining, the majority of new members now join our ranks via the web. In addition, when it comes to financial transactions, our union now largely conducts these electronically. I am sure many of you will know from your own experiences that this is becoming the norm as cheques are almost a thing of the past. We are increasingly shifting away from paper-based administration. Thankfully, new technology also provides a raft of communication tools that help keep you up-to-date with what our union is doing. Email, Twitter, Facebook and our website give us the ability to communicate almost instantaneous both with you and the wider world. Frankly, only a few decades ago, none of us could have dreamt of having such a vast array of fast, reliable means with which to keep you informed.

You know, our union is having to grapple with some real challenges when considering how best to allocate the scarce resources at its disposal. Given this, our EC will soon be putting in place a new communication strategy that will seek the best means for keeping in touch with you as cost effectively as possible. The intention is to focus our message – and also how it is delivered to you – to ensure that it best serves your needs.

We aim to put in place a greater range of publications. This will result in more diverse and frequent communications – workplace and company specific newsletters, campaigning materials, SOGs newsletters, activist-specific publications, etc – the vast majority of which you will receive through electronic means. I am acutely aware that not all of you have access to email and/or the web. I can assure you that you will not be left behind. As required, we will continue posting hard copies to keep you informed of what is going on. However, the above means that we will no longer need to print our Journal as often as we currently do. As we deploy more effective means of keeping you informed, we will be reducing the printed editions.

Lastly, between the 22 and 25 May Europe goes to the polls – there are also local elections in England and Ireland. You know, voting really matters. You can read on the following page an excellent article by our union’s president, Mick Carney, highlighting the decisions that the European Union makes which have a direct impact on your livelihoods. The reality is that whether you agree or disagree with the concept of the EU, as things stand, the facts on the ground tell us that whoever becomes your MEP will have an input into what policies are pursued. Similarly, in local elections, those in power will make crucial decisions about vital services. That is why you need your voice to be heard. Don’t let others choose for you – make sure you vote in these elections!

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