The outgoing Fórsa president has highlighted the importance of co-operation between staff working in clerical and administrative grades across the public sector, in a keynote speech to the union’s biennial national conference yesterday.
Ann McGee, who will continue to serve as one of the union’s three vice presidents over the next two years, applauded the establishment of Fórsa ‘equivalent grade committees’ which coordinate work on behalf of members in clerical and administrative grades in the civil and public service.
The committees bring together reps from the union’s six divisions.
“They were formed immediately after the creation of Fórsa, and have explored differences in pay, working time and working conditions for clerical, admin and executive staff in parts of the civil and public service. There is much in common between workers in health, local government, education, the civil service, and state agencies,” she said.
She said the move had helped staff performing similar work to “support each other and develop a strong and informed voice.”
Ann, who was elected as Fórsa’s first president at the union’s first national conference in 2018, also paid tribute to the efforts of workers during the Covid-19 emergency.
“Last March, at a time when none of us could know where this crisis would take us, the leadership of this union made an immediate and public statement that Fórsa and its members across the civil, public, private, voluntary and semi-state sectors, would cooperate fully with the emergency measures necessary to contain the Covid-19 virus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services during this unprecedented public health emergency.
“In other words, Fórsa and its members have given their all, sometimes co-operating with measures that would not be acceptable in normal times, and temporally setting aside hard-won agreements, practices and benefits. That’s what I call leadership in a crisis. You have all been leaders,” she said.
She said Fórsa had led on issues from trade union organisation and strength, to public service pay and investment, automation and its impact on work and society, the gender pay gap, protection for the low paid and other vulnerable people, working time, the four-day week, international solidarity and climate action.
“We should never lose sight of the fact that we are member-centred, we put our members at the centre of what we do. We care for our members and are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for them,” she said.
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