As millions of people return to work today after the Christmas and New Year break I wanted to first of all pay tribute to Community’s thousands of members who have been working through the Christmas period. They have been keeping manufacturing and production lines running, protecting vulnerable children, ensuring safety and security in the justice sector, taking punters’ bets on the Christmas football, delivering and sorting festive gifts and cards or working in the many thousands of other jobs where we represent people in a 24/7 economy. I hope all our members had some opportunity to spend time with friends and family.
We know this was a difficult Christmas for many of our members who lost their jobs last year and are still looking for new employment. Community is continuing to provide legal support and advice to hundreds of members who were affected, particularly former SSI workers and contractors, who ended up with no job, no redundancy pay in an area where the entire community is affected by the end of steel making.
Community members from across the UK rallied round in support of the Redcar workers and I was proud to add £10,000 on behalf of the union to the thousands raised by our members to ensure the kids and families affected by the steel plant closure could have a good Christmas.
Looking to the year ahead I know many of our members will continue to face challenges in their workplaces. The UK’s small economic recovery hasn’t been felt in many parts of the country. Whole communities are struggling as a result of job losses and we will continue to make further progress on many of the same issues that we championed in 2015.
In particular, I want to thank all our branch officials for their efforts in supporting members over the past year. We will continue to invest in the training and education of our representatives this year and hope to develop many more active members.
As the modern union for a changing world we are constantly looking at the ways we support our members and how to reach out to new members, so that we can become a stronger union. We know that by sticking together we can support our members through the challenges they will face in 2016.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.