Back in September at the TUC Conference, I met Frances O’Grady at the General Secretaries Dinner. She had just given a phenomenal speech calling Theresa May and the government on their handling of Brexit. She was also very enthusiastic about Artists’ Union England being part of the TUC.
She said then, it would be good to sit down with me for tea and cake after everything this has died down after the conference. I didn’t forget this request and made a point of following Frances up on her invitation and arranged a meeting in London for the end of November.
Frances is one busy woman, so I really appreciated the time she set aside to talk with me. And she was lovely. She’d hardly got her coat off and sat down before she was asking me what she could do for me; what the TUC could do for our union.
At first I was speechless as this unequivocal offer of help was unexpected.
But not one for remaining silent for long, I launched into the major issue facing our union; needing to grow in order to become more effective for our members but needing more members in order to grow. Catch 22.
Frances offered our Executive leadership support as well as offering our members the tools and training to become more empowered, being able to protect their rights and rates of pay when they find themselves in an employment/ work situation. But really you are not alone as you have the weight of the whole trade union movement behind you.
And Frances definitely made me feel less alone and supported.
The General Secretary position within any union is such a unique position. We carry the weight of a union on our shoulders. The General Secretary is the public face of the union and is responsible for its leadership and giving direction and clarity to the organisation’s strategic and policy development. We are at the forefront of negotiations, speaking on behalf of our members to any and all who will listen. It’s a difficult and arduous role to carry out, so I appreciated Frances sharing her wisdom and advice as I attempt to step into this role for our union.
I’m sure there will be more developments coming out of this meeting. Stay tuned.
Sheree Angela Matthews
Acting General Secretary