Expressing many reservations
Two weeks ending 25 March 2018
On Monday morning I had a call with the ExCom Secretariat as I am organising the day that ExCom visit Birmingham in my Regional Centre Change Lead capacity. I think it’s fair to say that the exposure I have had to ExCom members over the last couple of years has allowed me to understand they are human and don’t need spoon feeding. So it was an interesting conversation, because I refused to say I would collect questions in advance for a proposed Q&A and neither would I pin down exactly what each person would see when they visited a different floor in City Centre House. We got there in the end though!
Then emails and calls before I travelled down to London. I had kept the day deliberately light to allow for residual Cork hangovers! I went to the flat first to drop off my bags and then into the office to prepare for Tuesday which was ARC Committee. Loz had stepped up and prepared the agenda (good practice for when he is deputy) and Committee was at the Blue Fin building in Southwark. I walked from Waterloo to Southwark on the Tuesday morning, as I went into the office first to collect the relevant books. We had a full day with a debate on our equal pay claim, and what we did or did not do next, and a number of fine-tuning items to discuss for Conference. You will be pleased to hear we have agreed some training with the leadership academy and the full details will be available shortly, please do book on them if you can.
After Committee I had a last minute dial-in drop into my calendar about UC which meant I could not get over to see Sarah Guerra in Tooting and get back at a reasonable time so I have had to rearrange that to 9 May, which is an age away but in the diary! I am always tired after Committee, as chairing a group of strong characters is always challenging, but I do enjoy it. I had not spotted, though, that the usual forward look on meetings had not made it on to the agenda. Eugene picked it up and I shall be making sure it is back for the next one. It is useful to hear what meetings are in the calendar for people.
We were joined for the equal pay debate by our new national officer, Jawad Raza – you will meet him at Conference and by our new Assistant General Secretary, Amy Leversidge – who you will also meet at Conference. Amy has been leading on the issues in the Houses of Parliament and has made it on to Newsnight – good publicity!
On Wednesday 14th March there was another call about UC but an otherwise quiet day so more work was done on the inbox! Then on Thursday Paula and I travelled up to Liverpool for their centre meeting and dinner. We managed, and we have no idea how, to book seats 10 & 11 in the same carriage, but they weren’t actually next to each other – which makes sense only if you understand the crackers that is how train seats are numbered. It was a good meeting with motions coming out on pay as you would expect but also around estates issues and other problems that are encountered by a department that is changing.
I travelled back to London early on Friday morning for a GPC meeting (General Purpose Committee) before then travelling home to Birmingham. I was quite tired that weekend, so it was a quiet one apart from buying another car for our daughter who is now learning to drive. RTI was very brave and took her out in it despite her only having been in the driving instructor’s car twice. He wasn’t really enjoying the rugby so decided to take his life in his hands. To be fair he said she was quite good, the qualification of ‘considering it was only her third time in a car’ was perfectly understandable.
Back down to London on Monday 19th but not before I had gone to the West Midlands AGM which was quite well attended and a good number of motions plus delegates were forthcoming. Conference should be another interesting day and if I wasn’t having to replace speakers at the last minute I’d be looking forward to it! We will even have some London delegates this year.
Tuesday 20th was ER and HR Policy monthly meetings over at Canary Wharf. The ER meeting was interesting because we are still not quite convinced everything is in place. We are getting there, but the HR Policy meeting was quite cantankerous, and rightly so. I had a difficult message to deliver about the handling of grievance cases – we don’t feel the process is being followed properly and we are concerned about the department’s use of the suspension policy. I am meeting with Jan Beasley who heads up casework on a regular basis to build up that relationship again and to try and get some answers. But it is difficult and I sometimes think the department’s HR Policy team must think I don’t like them because I always seem to be having a go at them.
On Wednesday 21st I had to go back to Birmingham for the RIB – it was supposed to be in Wolverhampton but it was moved to Birmingham because Wolverhampton office had to be closed when the heating broke. The Group SRM had managed to work with all the BRMs across the Midlands and with a bit of shuffling (people working at home rather than CCH in Birmingham) we accommodated the office across the Midlands. It was really good to see it all come together. The RIB was interesting and I was able to show some of the work I had been doing on the portfolio make up. I am trying to morph them into ambition strands which seemed to go down quite well. Shamelessly stolen from Emma Spear in Cardiff though!
The rest of the day was an opportunity to speak with Garry who is the G7 lead in Birmingham and catch up with some of the HMRC emails which are appearing.
Thursday was a work at home day with some dial-ins. One was on outreach recruitment and one was on recruitment controls, which are in place across the country at the moment, but may shrink back to selected places shortly. They are supposed to assist with the roles out of London and the migration paths but because they are so misunderstood they are in danger of causing more issues than they solve. Very much work in progress.
Finally on Friday I went to the Bristol Centre meeting which was reasonably well attended and which produced two motions for conference and sufficient delegates to present them. I was able to thank Emily Turner for the work she has done as ARC Rep on the RIB as she goes off on maternity leave and I was reassured to see someone step in to cover that going forwards.
The trains were good to me and I had a quick trip round Grand Central when I got back to Birmingham (actually just John Lewis but that was a treat) before going home to see the RTI and discuss which one of us might be taking Alice out in her car! The weekend was quiet – most are at the moment – as I need to draw breath, but I did manage to see my eldest daughter who was flying out to Guatemala on Saturday, so that was useful.