General Secretary

June 2009 | 01.06.2009

Promoting the POA in unity with other unions


I would like to thank all delegates who took part in the 70th Annual Conference of our Union. It has been said that the Conference was rocky and difficult. Any democratic union that calls its officials together under the circumstances we are facing would want to have a full and frank exchange of views and come out of Conference with a better view of the direction the Union needs to go in than before Conference started.

We heard from many speakers who understand our problems. The Trades Union Movement, not only in England and Wales but throughout the rest of Europe, understand what we are facing but more importantly stand ready to give their support to our members who are facing Government policy aimed at using the POA specifi cally and Public Services generally to seek and find a way through these financial difficulties that their policies have created. It is right to criticise this Government, it is right to hold politicians to account for their mis-management, but it is right to seek to assist the Government through these difficult times. It is a pity however that the Government choose not to listen to the common sense arguments put by the professional men and women and most importantly those who represent them. My pledge to you is that I will continue to seek, along with Colin Moses and the National Executive Committee, for the best future for our members and their families. To do anything other than that in my last year as General Secretary would be an abdication of the faith shown in myself whenever I have been elected within the past 31 years. Unity at this time is so important. I ask that all branches engage with the other unions, representing those working alongside our members, through the Whitley processes locally, whether that be the Prison Service or the NHS.

It has been a great honour and privilege to be asked to address the celebratory Conference’s of the National Union of Mine Workers, who this year celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the biggest fight to preserve trades unionism in recent history. The miners “great strike” should stand as an example to us all. It would also be foolish for us not to recognise the great debt that we owe the NUM and we need to learn from the diffi culties and hardship that they went through. I pay the greatest respect to the NUM and I am pleased that they are able to call the POA their comrades.

On behalf of the POA, I attended the PCS Conference at Brighton and addressed the NOMS group and the PCS group representing the officers of the Serious Organised Crime Authority. Both of these groups recognised fully the diffi culties that the POA continue to face. We should work closer with our colleagues from PCS, and as I made clear when addressing the NOMS group, whilst we may not agree on the approach to be taken, we all agree that we will have to stand together to defeat the attacks on the Civil and Public Services, whether they come under a Labour or in the future a Conservative Government. I once again state that our moto “Unity is Strength” should not be seen just as a POA logo. Working together as a trades union and with our brothers and sisters within the Trades Union Movement, we can win. When the chips are down together we are stronger, together we can win.

Brian Caton
General Secretary