On the 1st of September 2021 I had the great honour of formally taking up the role as General Secretary of the CWU. In my communication with you I committed to re-energise our mission, to establish a vision and direction, to ensure our effectiveness in progressing the interests of communications workers and secure the long-term future of this great Union.
Just three months in the Head Office team has been extremely active, undertaking a complete review of all aspects of the Union’s business. In this regard it is gratifying to report real progress on a number of fronts which have been unanimously endorsed by the National Executive Council.
Head Office – New Structure
First and foremost, as previously advised to you, the appointment of Ian McArdle as Deputy General Secretary has been ratified. As a follow on, we recently concluded agreement on a renewed Head Office structure which will ensure a focused attention to the core aspects of the CWU mission statement (see below). The Officers’ portfolios are detailed fully in the second attachment below and in the December issue of Connect.
In summary, the objective of the changes comprehends the following:
- Aligns responsibilities to reflect the size of the organisation
- Improves service to members, making best use of resources
- Harnesses experience, promoting teamwork
- Financial accountability
- Organising as a top priority
- Maintains commitments to ICTU, UNI Global Union
A comprehensive, independent audit of the Union’s financial affairs is underway by Fóla Consultants. The report and recommendations we have commissioned will guide and inform the CWU in ensuring healthy finances and prudent expenditure in the years ahead. It will enable us to secure and develop the financial supports and benefits our members enjoy. As General Secretary, I am committed to improved reporting, budgeting and presentation of accounts. In dealing with members’ money, I believe it is critical that there is a clear line of accountability, together with the highest standards of good governance.
Organising /Recruitment & Campaigning
In respect of our declining income and membership, where for a good number of years now investments are plugging deficits, there are long-term risks if we do not address the downward trajectory. For this reason, I am advocating a control of costs in tandem with investment in a membership growth strategy. Organising, recruitment and retention are central to this and are a core responsibility of all Officers. Together with workplace activity, these are key to achieving our goal of defending, expanding and (re)building our organisation. As part of this renewed focus, the role of the existing Organisers has been expanded to combine organising and the industrial relations agenda. Of course, we will only succeed by providing the necessary resources and by supporting our Branch Activists, who are essential to organising and recruitment, with the tools and skills to do their job. Neither can we shoulder this responsibility on our own and for this reason the CWU will, under my steerage, work hand in glove with ICTU, UNI Global Union and like-minded unions.
Communications will be central to our overall strategy, in which we must ensure our voice, and that of our members, is heard on key issues that are relevant to them. A significant review is underway to examine all of our activities with the objective of reclaiming our role as the voice of workers in the communications industry, and not leaving it to others. This involves addressing various work programmes, from a website review to how we use social media. We will also develop communications opportunities to support the Union in driving its policies and agenda.
With phase one of our review at an advanced stage, we have wasted no time in advancing to the next stage. Implementation of the new structure takes place from the 4th January 2022.
Sector by Sector Analysis
A sector by sector/company analysis is underway by the Officials to set the agenda of work for the year ahead with input from the NEC, AGMs and most importantly, you, as members. We will also engage with the various employer senior management teams to review the company business requirements and the potential impact on members and the CWU organisation.
So, while we have a lot done, with much more to do, the most important communication and input we will embark upon at the earliest opportunity involves you. COVID has restricted our ability to directly meet up, but I am hopeful we can proceed with our communications exercise, with the AGMs now being central to this. I very much look forward to meeting with you and hearing your views and ideas. Together we will shape the future union, collectively advancing our members’ interests. Together we move to the next chapter prepared and with confidence.
The above is an outline of the progress to date, which we will develop and action over the coming months, culminating with a report to Biennial Conference in May 2022.