Running the heights
Blog – week ending 30 October 2016
I had to pack a bigger case for this week because I was travelling home via Bristol and wanted to be suitcaseless for that journey (this makes sense to me). So I arrived in Leake Street as normal and cracked on with some admin before joining a call at 11.00am on the transfer of staff in from Concentrix. I wrote about this last week.
As ever other things got in the way so the blog didn’t actually get written until late on Monday but it made it on to the website right at the end of the day (I think)!
Tuesday was the Officer’s dial in and we discussed (amongst other things) PMR – which resulted in my writing an update that was issued to you all on Thursday. This was an important update because I need you all to know that we have not stopped fighting for a fairer system, with no guided distribution. Things are moving on this front and I hope to be able to report more soon.
After the officer’s dial in I think it would be fair to say that my inbox exploded and I spent the rest of the day fire-fighting the issues that appeared. There are so many disillusioned people around sometimes it’s hard to read emails but I do try and acknowledge them all and I do use the feedback I get about the PMR system.After the officer’s dial in I think it would be fair to say that my inbox exploded and I spent the rest of the day fire-fighting the issues that appeared. There are so many disillusioned people around sometimes it’s hard to read emails but I do try and acknowledge them all and I do use the feedback I get about the PMR system.
As I left on Tuesday I made sure I had leaflets about the Compensation Scheme with me as well as my brief for Autumn Centre Meetings as I was going to Bristol on Wednesday. The Compensation Scheme ballot has now ended and we are waiting to see if there have been enough unions accept so that the scheme offered is legislated. I still feel that there was no need to change the scheme we have but at least we have improved the ‘reforms’ from utter rubbish to just rubbish. As soon as we have news on this I will send an ARC Update to keep you all in the loop. There are many of us for whom the scheme will never be relevant but there are a number of us for whom the scheme will be particularly relevant and the opportunity to have a partial buy out of your pension is one that I think many of our members will appreciate.
So off to Paddington on Wednesday to travel to Bristol and a complete disaster on the lunch front because there is no M&S at Paddington Station – at least not one that I could find. I knew there wouldn’t be one at Temple Meads so it looked like lunch was off the agenda – and it was! Friends helpfully told me of the stations where there was an M&S but obviously I wasn’t at them so this was not, in fact, helpful at all!
The centre meeting in Bristol was dominated by the Regional Centre move as they are an early adopter. Emily who is acting for ARC at the RILs was very organised and fed back which meetings she went to and whether she was an observer or participator. We discussed what we thought was the purpose of each of the groups and I explained what I had been told about how they should fit together. As ever there are different versions in each region but in some places this makes sense as early adopters need to be further down the line than those where the Regional Centre will not open until 2020. The rest of the meeting was a discussion around pay, PMR and the overall BOF programme. We overran by about ten minutes but everyone seemed reasonably content with the work that ARC are doing on their behalf.
I then decamped to a meeting room to have the final dial in of the six weekly meetings for pay. We are nearly there with the business case though I must admit to having some reservations that I cannot yet put my finger on. I am busily writing up ARC’s thoughts on why we need this extra money in terms of engagement and morale and will be finalising that paper as soon as I have posted this. There was genuine surprise when my tablet linked, without any problem at all, to HMRC WIFI as most people didn’t think they had that facility. They didn’t have it in the room where we held the ARC meeting, but in the room I dialled in from and at the desk outside it they did – so I wasn’t complaining.
When I booked to go to Bristol and go straight home the journey from Bristol to Birmingham was advertised as one and a half hours. It took two and a quarter because there was planned engineering work – well it wasn’t planned when I booked my tickets and it meant I didn’t get home in time to see RTI as he had gone out to play bridge. It also meant I was so tired by the time I got home I could barely see straight – maybe it was just as well he was out playing bridge!
On Thursday and Friday I was on leave (though still answering the phone, still doing emails and actually I went into Birmingham to meet a colleague (who is also a friend) and who is struggling with some issues at the moment). But at 2.30 I switched off everything and we drove to Bangor ready to help with the Snowdonia Marathon on Friday and Saturday. RTI was in his element running the hoodie and t-shirt shop (he took over £6,000 on Friday). I resumed my foil wrapping action on Saturday and managed to wrap Shane Williams as he came over the line. I also managed to see both colleagues who were running (one of them with his brother in law who was running his 100th marathon wearing race number 100) and wrap them up too! And our son was helping out, seeming quite happy and settled which I was glad to see.
It was half term for RTI as he didn’t have to look after our Grandson so he spent the week ferrying our daughter around and cooking curry for Saturday night when nine of us sat down (with everything tidied away) to eat and drink rather a lot. We had some of those laugh until your stomach hurts moments and it was a perfect way to end a very long day. If ever you run a marathon I will admire you for being able to, if ever you organise one, having seen the amount of effort that my friend put in, I might just admire you even more!