I have always believed that it’s a privilege to be employed by a trade union, and especially in the role as the senior elected employee of the organisation.
News of my re-election to remain as your General Secretary for a second term, after a testing process that seemed to span months rather than weeks, was of course hugely appreciated by me, but I won’t be affording myself the indulgence of a long celebration. Just in the same way that I am not one to wallow perpetually in the bitter aftermath of defeat, or use it as an excuse to apportion blame on others, I have over the years learned to accept victory with humility.
So I want to record thanks and future best wishes to Mike Rolfe for stepping up to be part of the GS election contest and offering members a choice. I am sure that his name will feature again when or if other similar opportunities arise elsewhere in the future
Unfortunately, it’s an unpalatable truth that General Secretary elections rarely engage huge interest among union members, although a 16.4% turnout is proportionately much higher than other and bigger unions manage to achieve.
During the balloting period much debate was taking place about the Election Guidelines and the opportunities for member engagement. I have long been of the view that our democratic processes ought to reflect the times we live in, but General Secretaries whoever they are, don’t make the rules, you do; via your Branch meetings and the Napo AGM.
There’s time enough between now and the next GS Election for a review, which will hopefully spare future candidates from attempts to move the goalposts at the last minute.
We (that’s as in ‘we’ in the collective) have serious work to do from here on in to build our campaign to reunify the Probation Service and see it restored to public ownership. We will soon be commencing what I already know will be difficult pay negotiations in the NPS. All our CRC members will be watching developments keenly to ensure they won’t be left behind and I intend to make sure that you will not be. Then there is the not inconsiderable matter of growing this union back to something near to the level of density that we had before Grayling’s attempts to wipe us out of existence. He failed on that one of course and one day he will be brought to account for his incompetency, but it’s taking longer than we would all like.
Meanwhile, following the election result I have been absolutely overwhelmed and very moved by the scores and scores of supportive messages from Napo members and former colleagues who I have worked with over many years. I also appreciate that there are some members who wanted a change in leadership. To them I simply say, I will be a General Secretary for all of our members, and will seek to carry out the fresh mandate I have been given.
We cannot afford the luxury of division in the landscape we are stepping into. It’s one that is becoming more welcoming and receptive to our values and beliefs and we must work together to defeat our common enemies, because victory is not only in sight but it’s also in reach. We must hasten the day when it will arrive.