GMB union Manufacturing Section Conference 2019



13 November 2019

The GMB National Manufacturing Section Conference was held at the Titanic Hotel in Belfast on 5-6th November 2019. The North West & Irish region sent a delegation of 12 to the conference as well as our 4 national Manufacturing Committee members and the National Manufacturing Section Acting President Bob Gunn. The Conference was the first to be held since section conferences have been separated from GMB Congress and going forward will be an annual event instead of bi-annual.

The format of the conference was very different from the usual motion led conferences. The delegates were separated into 7 workshops cover the following manufacturing sectors:

Food & Drink

Shipbuilding, Defence & Steel

Engineering & Construction

Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals & Process

Aggregates & ceramics

Automotive Components & Heavy Machinery

Furniture & Wood

Each sector had two hours on day one, The first hour was to raise and discuss the issues that effected their workplaces and the second hour was to narrow down the issues into creating one motion that would be put to conference on day two. At the end of the two hour session each group had to prepare and deliver a ten minute feedback to the whole conference outlining their discussions, debates and decision making, as well as writing up a proposer and seconder speech for the motion.

On day two each groups chosen proposer and seconder gave their speeches to conference and all the motions were voted on. Following on from this, the delegates went back into their sector groups and had a two hour session to develop a working plan of action for their campaign which was delivered in the motion. At the end of that session each group gave a ten minute feedback presentation to the whole conference.

The GMB delegation had delegates in Food & Drink, Shipbuilding, Defence & Steel, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals & Process and the Furniture & Wood sectors and all the delegates took an active part in the workshops.

Eight of our twelve NW&I delegation were first time delegates and it was an honour to lead such an enthusiastic and diverse group of activists.

Our delegation consisted of:

Ali, Kamran Robert McBride Ltd

Brocklehurst, Ian Astra Zeneca

Collins, Timothy Pladis (Jacobs)

Craig, Michael Ulster Sheltered Employment

Flynn, Paul Berwin Polymers

Malcolm, Alan Bombardier

Marnell, Robert Food Hill Foods

Nurse Etchells, Sarah Astra Zeneca

O’Hagan, Neil Cereal Partners

Pop-Bricioc, Roxana Tetrad

Sutton, John Gledhill

Wylie, Geoff Victrex

In addition to the the delegates, as our region was hosting the event, Paul McCarthy Regional Secretary and Dougie Henry Regional President were both honoured guests and they were accompanied by:

Gunn, Bob Manufacturing Acting National President & Regional Committee

Marnell, Edward CEC

McDonnell, John CEC

Welham, Robert CEC

McGivern, Andrew CEC

There was an Outstanding Activist Award and this was jointly awarded to the Reps at the three Shipyards across the country that were under threat of closure. Due to amazing GMB campaigns at all three Shipyards, they have all found new owners and are now back open for business. Two of the yards were Appledore in Devon and Ferguson Marine in Glasgow and from our very own region, Paul Beattie and Barry Reid received their award for the brilliant campaign and occupation of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast.

Another plus for the region was that Bob Gunn was officially elected unopposed to be the position of National Manufacturing President for another 12 months.

I would like to pay tribute to the delegates for their professionalism, commitment and attention to detail. All were impeccably behaved and a real credit to the region and the GMB as a whole. Thanks also goes to the Committee members who supported the workshops and more importantly supported our newer delegates during the conference and finally a big thank you to Steve Boden Regional Organiser, who delivered the Chemicals, Pharma & Process workshops in a professional and knowledgeable manner.

Neil Holden

Senior Organiser (Manufacturing)

GMB North West & Irish Region