In the next few days all members will receive in the post a ballot paper from UNISON Bexley branch. This ballot is to elect the Branch Secretary who will run our branch of UNISON for the next year, starting from the branch Annual General Meeting on 5 February.

There’s a general explanation of what the role of Branch Secretary involves on the national UNISON web site.

The two candidates you will be asked to choose between are Oliver Wooller (currently Branch Secretary) and Paul Speller (currently Communications Officer). Alongside the ballot paper, you will find a 300-word election statement from each of them. You can also read these statements online, below.

Completed ballots must be returned by Friday 30 January 2015. Don’t miss your chance to have a say in who runs UNISON Bexley branch!

If you have any questions about the election process please contact the scrutineers, Susan Clark and Daniel Lee.

Candidates’ statements

Candidate: Mr. Oliver Wooller
Election address

I have worked for Bexley Council for eighteen years as an Archivist working in the Central Library at Bexleyheath and I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of cuts in essential public services which are now stretched to breaking point. Members are demoralised and many are facing acute financial difficulties. Over the past four years in Bexley we have seen massive reductions in funding for care homes, the conversion of all the secondary and now many of the primary schools into academies, shared services established in the Libraries and Parking, the contracting out of many core Council services, attacks on our terms and conditions, pensions and facilities time and the steady erosion of our pay.

While the Branch has done its best to resist these attacks on our members we have done so from a position of weakness. The Council will never take us seriously while our membership figures remain so low. We desperately need to recruit more members particularly in the core Council. As things stand less than a third of our members work in the core council, yet the Branch is still organised as if Bexley was our sole employer. All the Branch officers and most of the Stewards come from the core Council. Providing representation for members outside the core Council is extremely difficult, especially since disgracefully the new facilities agreement does not cover all Council schools. We need to have more Stewards in the schools, academies and other external employers and ensure that they are properly trained to represent members in their workplaces. We also need to have a Branch committee that properly reflects the membership of the Branch. Three quarters of our members are women, less than a third work at the Civic Offices and only a minority are on above average earnings.

Candidate: Mr. Paul Speller
Election address

Paul Speller – the change UNISON Bexley branch needs

As government cuts lead to job cuts, and pay falls far behind the escalating cost of living, life becomes harder for members. We need our union to stand up for every one of us more than ever – whether in pay negotiations, changes to terms and conditions or outsourcing arrangements and protections for staff.

In recent years I’ve sometimes felt UNISON Bexley branch leadership has seemed remote, slow to engage, slow to explain and slow to speak up – and I’ve heard others say the same.

As Communications Officer, I’ve begun addressing this, regularly communicating developments in your union online at bexleyunison.org.uk/news.

When employers sent an all-staff e-mail about pay negotiations which tried to misrepresent the situation, I wrote a response to send to all members, defending our union and ensuring you weren’t misinformed about the strike.

While I’ve achieved improvements as Communications Officer, I believe it’s vital that visibility and accessibility comes from the top. That’s why I’m putting myself forward as the candidate to bring that change.

I believe it’s important for staff to have easy access to UNISON so our office should be based at the Civic Offices where most staff work; if elected I will strongly push for this.

At a time of great change it’s crucial the branch participates fully in HR policy consultations, yet currently it doesn’t always; I pledge to engage with these to protect members’ interests.

If you elect me as your Branch Secretary, I will do all I can to ensure UNISON Bexley branch is visible and proactive, speaking up for members at a time of great need.

  • I’d love to chat to members making their minds up on this important ballot. You can contact me at paul.speller@bexley.gov.uk or on 020 3045 4982.