My Vision

I am standing for the General Secretary position in NIPSA because I have a vision for the future of our union. Hopefully, you will have already read my manifesto.

I have previously explained the experience I have gained over 40 years of union activity and the promises I intend to keep if I am elected, but as I could not say everything within the 500-word limit I have written this short piece to complement my manifesto.

My vision is not just about words: I am a person who puts words into actions. Good trade unionists fight for their members every day and I am still the same person who became a branch rep in my office in 1982. One recent example of how I put words into action has been through our union’s efforts to protect all our members during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which I played my part with many others.

I have never shirked a challenge, and I will work with you to win improvements in pay, terms and conditions. We know that everything we value today has been won through struggle. Civil and public servants are facing imposition of derisory pay rises. Despite their words of appreciation for the work of public servants the Executive parties have once again demonstrated their contempt for workers. I believe we can make a breakthrough if we build a campaign of the members and join in a united campaign with all other unions. There is no doubt, however, if we are to make gains then a determined struggle will be necessary, including industrial action. I am proud of our members who have stood up for their rights in the past and I promise you now that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the years ahead. If elected I will fight every day and will seek to build a membership-led movement for gains in pay, pensions and working conditions.

I believe that our union should be led by the membership. I want to see a growing union, and a membership which democratically decides on the future direction of the union. The role of the General Secretary is to implement the decisions of elected bodies and the annual conference and I promise to do so. Just as I have done with the increase in salary I received when I became Deputy General Secretary salary, I intend to donate the additional salary I receive as General Secretary to trade union causes.

Our union must rise to the challenge of safeguarding the future of our youngest members. This generation faces worse prospects than previous generations, because of the growth in insecure work, a real fall in wages and a pension age which seems to get further and further away. This is unacceptable. A properly organised and resourced public sector should provide well-paid and secure employment and not rely on agency or temporary staff. If elected I will work to ensure that all insecure forms of employment are brought to an end across the public sector. I will reinvigorate a recruitment drive in all areas including among agency staff and those in other forms of precarious employment.

I am not simply focused on the workplace issues but also have my sights set on the sort of major changes I believe are necessary to ensure a better life for all. As you may already know I consider myself to be a socialist. Let me explain what I mean by this.

For me socialism is about democratic control and the reorganisation of society in the interest of the many not the few. This will only be achieved when a majority in society are in favour of such change. I seek to raise arguments in favour of socialist change whenever I get a chance and I was particularly proud to have proposed, and to have voted with other branch delegates at our conference several years ago, that we include the aim of a socialist economy in our constitution.

I am in favour of the unity of working people. In contrast, our local politics is often about division. I personally believe workers and trade unionists would be better represented by a cross-community party based on working-class politics. I have always worked to keep sectarianism out of the workplace and my proudest moments have been when we walked out of work together in response to threats and killings. We are at our strongest when we are united, and our unity must be carefully protected. I promise you to always safeguard the unity of our union and to work for the shared interests of all working people.

Carmel Gates

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