And so, the final curtain
Three weeks ending 25 May 2018
Well here we are – the final blog. Hard to believe but it has been two years since I took over and it is now over. We have a new President and we move on to fight the good fight for two more years.
I travelled down to London on Bank Holiday Monday evening as I had an early meeting on Tuesday morning, except I didn’t, it was cancelled so I had a day in the office with a couple of dial ins on the VR process underway. I managed to finalise the report and held on with bated breath for the audited accounts so that the agenda for our AGM could be published. I hadn’t realised just how much work went into it and also that some of the time limits were very tight – I had to send a copy out to members 14 days before AGM which I managed to do but only with draft accounts. Jim Rogers has done an excellent job in his first year as Chair of our Procedures Sub Committee and now he knows what he’s doing will hopefully find it less arduous next year.
Wednesday saw another meeting with Jon Thompson bounced out of the calendar but a meeting with ISBC go ahead (in room 6.01 which is impossible to find and if I hadn’t bumped into Janet Alexander I think I may still have been looking for it). Unfortunately I had left the ISBC meeting ten minutes early to get back over to see Jon before I looked at my emails and saw it had been bounced. At least it proves I don’t do emails while I’m in meetings!
Janet is completely different in her thoughts on some issues and has commissioned some research into how ISBC can facilitate flexible working. This is most welcome.
Then I met Sarah Guerra at the Green Room for an early tea before going back to the flat.
Thursday was ADC at a new venue which was lovely but the acoustics were difficult if you were on stage apparently. Our emergency motion was remitted which was a little disappointing but something we didn’t object to – the same motion was going to ARC AGM so there was still opportunity. There was an interesting talk from Melanie Dawes with questions afterwards and she thanked Dave for the work he did to defend civil servants impartiality. We also heard from Christine McAnea, an Assistant General Secretary at UNISON and there was the usual round of motions. We didn’t quite get finished on time but we weren’t far off and it was a good day. I managed a quick word with Emma our lawyer on the equal pay claim and hope to hear about the court of appeal decision shortly.
I also received the audited accounts on Thursday so the agenda was finalised and sent for proof on Friday morning – I was delighted to have managed this!
Friday was a meeting with David Richardson in his role as acting DG of CS & TD when we told him that in IPD TOIL was not allowed – which surprised the DD in the room who was from IPD and used TOIL. More fuel to our fire on discussing the TOIL issues with the department. Then the train home at 1.40 (cheap ticket) for one final weekend of being in London during the week – if that makes sense.
So the final weekend was quiet-ish! RTI was at a bridge tournament all weekend – I had to go down there to take his wallet so I got youngest daughter to drive – which was a little scary in the traffic but we took our learning opportunities and learnt from them. Mostly me shouting ‘If I say stop you stop’ calmly you understand!
Monday saw me in Birmingham being ARC rep on the TPDG which discusses opportunities for G7s and G6s and how the trainees are doing then a catch up with the new RIL and G7 support before trying to drive home in horrendous traffic. RTI has asked me whether I had thought about retiring early over the weekend and after that journey I think the answer would be where do I sign!
Tuesday saw me at the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool, a stunning setting and one I had to send a picture of to RTI. It was the Estates programme information day and I was representing West Midlands. Steven Boyd didn’t recognise me and when I said who I was told me I had looked smarter last time he saw me. As my colleague said, if you’re going to be insulted it might as well be by someone important. It was a good day and very interesting to hear how they are a little bit fed up with governance but recognise it’s an important part of a process – but it could be streamlined!
Once back in the Midlands I got in my car and drove to London so I could drive all my stuff back later that week. I had agreed to stand in for Helen Baird-Parker at the quarterly diversity meeting with Jon Thompson on Wednesday and then worked in the office until I met my landlady later at an exclusive club for women in business – they are trying to get her to join – they weren’t interested in me!
Thursday saw me argue with the PCS national officer about the impacts of flattening the high performance awards if the department were to agree to it and then listen to the pay team talk about what they want to do when the remit is published. Then I had my rescheduled meeting with Jon Thompson (and bumped into Mary Aiston briefly which is always good value) to discuss where we could add value going forwards. Finally a dial in about union engagement in the regions and the way the department wants to take this forwards, which Loz will be plugged into and to which I listened as I was walking back over Westminster Bridge.
Friday’s meeting was cancelled which left me with a dilemma as I had planned to drive home after the rush hour because it did not finish until 3pm but as it was cancelled I had a chance of getting back earlier. I spent Friday morning going through the documents I needed to keep and leaving some for Paula if she needs to refer to them. I checked that the AGM packs were all complete and then I dashed back to the flat, packed up the car and set off about 2.10pm to drive all my stuff back. It was the end of an era for me personally and the next week would see the end of it professionally too. I am glad to be home permanently but I am equally as glad I did what I did as I don’t think it would have been as straight forward if I had commuted or lived in a hotel.
A quiet weekend finalising my brief for conference, ordering lunch for Committee on Monday and changing the Monday night arrangements to a BBQ here for Committee.
Tuesday morning saw Paula and I meet with HR Policy (Tracy McGee) about TOIL. I am hopeful we may see a success here soon – I hope so because it would be a good one for Paula to get under her belt.
Then Conference and dinner – with a few hiccups but not too many – which you will hear about in the AGM special edition of ARC News.
I handed over the Presidency to Paula Houghton and we took the Irish out for lunch afterwards. It was a good finish to an amazing two years.
I have been blown away by the standing ovations and the emails of thanks I have received. I want to thank you all for supporting me, for working on behalf of members and for reading my blogs. I have tried my best to lead by example and in all honesty I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the opportunity – onwards and upwards!