31 December 2011
Look back with pride and forward with confidence
- message to members from Branch President
Branch activists and members can be rightly proud
of our successes in 2011.
Keeping Edinburgh’s environmental services
in-house was a high point that came from using all
the resources at our disposal. Publicity, campaigning,
engaging with local communities, lobbies, leafleting
and stunts all went alongside research, organising,
political lobbying and the sheer force of persuasion
to achieve the right decision from the council.
Everyone from members to activists and staff who
kept the campaign machinery running should rightly
be satisfied with the achievement. Challenges lie
ahead for those directly involved but they are challenges
they are up for.
But we still have two huge privatisations to challenge
in January. We must keep up the same unity of purpose
in the Branch that has brought us success so far.
The pensions strike of 30 November saw that unity
of purpose and sheer hard work on the ground result
in a great turnout that surprised many pundits.
Many members came out on strike and stood on picket
lines for the first time.
The 10,000 strong march and rally in Edinburgh
was inspiring. It showed the real strength of feeling
about the unfairness felt by public service workers
being asked to pay for the excesses of the banking
system and the super-rich. Members will be consulted
in the coming weeks on the progress made in talks
following the action.
All of this was against a background of real challenges
for the Branch with vacancies in the branch officer
team. One key event was our lead negotiator Kevin
Duguid deservedly moving on to a new job. The thanks
extended by both the Branch and management to Kevin
was a testament to the respect he commanded.
Branch secretary Agnes Petkevicius and lead officers
had to put together an ad hoc team to manage the
huge workload. Many thanks to those who stood up
to the mark to help out.
The death of John Ross, a key figure in the Branch
from its inception, affected us all and left a gap
in the team, the office and our lives that is still
The fact that the Branch has been able to deliver
so much when its activists’ pool has been
so stretched must give us confidence for the coming
year. Already the signs are that new people will
be coming forward to fill the gaps at the AGM in
But the lessons from the ‘Our City’s
Not For Sale’ campaign is that it is not enough
just to fill the posts. We need to get more stewards
on the ground and more members directly involved
in their union. Most of all – and this was
the success of the campaign – we need to use
each other’s talents, working as a team and
using all the tools available to us.
That means basic organising, education, campaigning
and action where necessary, alongside strong support
for bargaining and representation. No one part of
it will deliver by itself.
On behalf of the Branch, I wish you all a happy
and peaceful New Year – and most of all a
2012 that starts to bring fairness and justice back
to public services and those who deliver them.