One of the objectives following on from the regional launch of the GMB manufacturing sections “Making It Campaign” back in May 2018, was to create a Manufacturing Activists forum within the region. This came to fruition on 22nd February 2019 when the Forum met for the first time.
Over 30 Activists from across 17 different Employers gathered at Columbus Quay in what turned out to be a very productive and interactive day.
The meeting was chaired by Neil Holden, the Region’s Senior Organiser for Manufacturing who set out the future strategy for the Forum going forward. This included the creation of Regional Activist positions to sit on the 9 National Activist Forums alongside Activists from the other regions across the GMB, encourage and improve communication between the Activists, so that they can learn from each other’s experiences and the commitment to hold a Regional Activist Forums every six months. Neil explained to the group that the forum would evolve over time and he hoped that eventually it would be the Activists leading and chairing their own forum. Neil explained that he wanted to see the manufacturing section at the forefront of activity within the Union and to do that activists needed to communicate across the different employers and workplaces, find common issues and become force in their own right
Jude Brimble GMB National Secretary for Manufacturing addressed the Forum. Jude gave an outline of the National Activist Forums and the need to ensure that each region has a presence and it will be the forums that dictate future strategy of the Manufacturing section of the GMB. Jude also gave a brief report on the state of British manufacturing and how the mess this Tory Government have made on Brexit has caused uncertainty within many manufacturing employers. This has led to delays in or lack of investment, which in turn has caused job insecurity.
Jude also outlined the importance of the GMB research and policy team and gave an example on how GMB has been leading the way with comprehensive research into rebuilding the UK’s defence shipbuilding industry, following the Government’s decision to put the Fleet Solid Support vessel order out to international tender instead of guaranteeing they were built in UK shipyards.
Activist Bob Welham who sits on the GMB Central Executive Committee gave a passionate talk on Activism and Organisation within the workplace. Bob encouraged all those present to fully participate in every aspect of trade union life from within the workplace and beyond. Bob described how over the years he had built numerous networks through the trade union movement and the information he gained from these contacts helped him support his members in the workplace.
Bob Gunn, National President of the GMB Manufacturing Section gave a report on the National Manufacturing Committee and spoke of the upcoming Section Conference for manufacturing which will take place in his home city of Belfast in November this year. Bob continued the thread of the day by encouraging activists to participate, get involved in the GMB and become the future of the Union.
Neil Smith GMB Political Officer gave a brief talk on how we work with Politicians to push our agenda. Neil explained to the activists that should they need some political support for issues, then all they need to do is make contact and he is happy to try and assist wherever he can.
Following on from the discussion about filling the National Activist Forum positions with activist from our region, Neil Holden asked the meeting if there were any volunteers. A number of activists put their names forward and it is hoped that the majority of positions will be filled in due course.
Steve Boden, GMB Organiser then ran a 2 hour Interactive Training Seminar on High Performance Workplaces and the techniques on bargaining and organising around the issues that arise out of issues such as lean manufacturing. The activists fully engaged in this training session and it was agreed that further training seminars bespoke to manufacturing would be looked for future activists forums.
Neil Holden closed the forum by saying thanks to the large number of activists that had attended and for the way they fully engaged in the session. It was agreed that Neil Holden would set a date for the next Activist forum and communicate to the activists in due course.