I realise it’s nowhere near as important or as newsworthy as the London mayoral race, but I too have been involved in an election recently, and guess what? I won!

Yep, I am now the Regional Convenor for UNISON Eastern region.

I’ve been trying to find an explanation of what the post is, because I suspect the title Regional Convenor is probably pretty meaningless to anyone outside of the trade union movement. The best I could come up with is this, from what I suspect is now an out of date UNISON document entitled Partnership working at Regional Level – A Best Practice Guide:

Key tasks of regional convenor

The regional convenor is elected by regional council delegates and is the senior lay member at regional level [Rule F 4.4.6]. The regional convenor usually chairs regional council and regional committee meetings.

Tasks relating to the office of regional convenor include:

  • ensuring development and maintenance of strong and flexible branch structures including supervising allocation of regional pool
  • monitoring deployment of resources allocated to the region to ensure that UNISON objectives are being effectively pursued
  • implementation of national policies and campaign strategies, in particular, recruitment
  • liaison with region’s NEC representatives
  • supporting union communications and lay member education provision at regional level
  • liaison with self organised groups, retired members and young members
  • consulting with, and representing the union on, external bodies in relation to economic, political and social issues in accordance with Democracy in UNISON guidelines and devolution protocol
  • participating in the regional convenors’ group at national level
  • in partnership with the regional secretary, ensuring effective lay governance via regional council and other lay member democratic structures within the region.

Anyway, dry and dull though some of that might sound, it’s a pretty big deal (well it is for me at least) and I’m dead chuffed and honoured to have been elected.

One thing I’ve already learnt about the role is that it involves having to read through a hell of a lot of paperwork. This is what came through the post the other day for example, for a meeting I’m going to next week:

A folder full of papers for just one meeting! So much paperwork in fact it’s being held together with big metal springy things! (seriously, I’m a stationery geek but I don’t even know what this type of folder is called.)

And yes, I have covered up the super secret important contents of the folder. You won’t catch me out that easily giving away top secret internal UNISON documents. I wouldn’t want to risk Priti Patel or someone equally ignorant of the union’s political fund rules catching sight of the memo on how to ensure the continuation of our audacious scheme to coerce members into paying a political levy now would I? (insert tongue in cheek smiley here, just in case anyone actually takes that bit seriously)

What it basically all means is that I’m going to be spectacularly busy over the next 12 months or so doing that thing I do of defending workers’ rights, only more so. So, stand by for an increase in political/trade uniony type blog posts from me.

Oh and by the way, (shameless UNISON plug warning!) if you’re not a UNISON member yet but you work in one of the sectors that UNISON covers, look – you can even join online now.

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