Having been invited in to UNISON National Delegate Conference to give the vote of thanks to President Paul Holmes, I was then presented with honorary life membership (in accordance with Rule C.2.7) by the then Vice President, now our President, Andrea Egan.
This was an unexpected honour, and I am grateful to the comrades in the Lambeth branch and on the National Executive Council who made this happen. In particular, I would like to thank Simon Hannah and Jocelyn Cruywagen, Branch Secretaries in Lambeth, and Branch Chair Ruth Cashman, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Development and Organisation Committee, of the NEC, Andrea Egan and John Jones.
I am also grateful to the General Secretary Christina McAnea, and the other officers who I know will have worked hard for this outcome.
It just goes to show that there are no hard feelings simply because I spent so many years in UNISON causing trouble for the then leadership, successfully took the union to the Certification Officer to expose wrongdoing by a former Regional Secretary (now long departed), and had approximately 100 complaints upheld by the Returning Officer in respect of breaches of election procedures by supporters of the successful candidate in the last General Secretary election.
Given my state of health, I may not be able to enjoy my honorary life membership for as long as I would like (which reminds me of what I once said to a scab crossing a picket line whose excuse was to say "I'm only temporary”. “We are all only temporary," I replied, "but that's no excuse to cross my picket line.”)
However, given the encouragement of this award of life membership, I will do my best to pay attention to developments in our trade union for as long as I am able. I may very well pass comment here from time to time, which I am sure is something that will be welcomed by all those on the Euston Road…
I was proud to serve on the NEC for 14 years, on the Greater London Regional Committee for 20 years, to represent UNISON nine times at the annual Trade Union Congress and, most of all to have been branch secretary of the wonderful Lambeth branch for 25 years. It was the last of these that was the honour of my life, as representing the workers of Lambeth is a unique, challenging and rewarding experience.
Following the award, friends from Lambeth joined me in front of the platform, and you can see in the picture, on my right, Juliet Blake, our long-serving Branch Administrator and Nick Venedi, my brother and former Branch Secretary whom I worked alongside for 20 years.
To my left stands our illustrious former Branch Chair, and now elected representative of pensioners on Lambeth’s Pensions Committee, Peter Woodward and our Branch Equality Officer, but also (and, to me, much more importantly) my partner, my love and my life, Hassina Malik.
In the middle, of course, stands your (not so) humble blogger, wearing two sets of conference credentials (one as a visitor and one as a guest) in order to attempt to misbehave to the very last.
You have been an amazing activist and brilliant at representing and helping so many people for so many years. It has been a privilege and an honour working with you for 20 years. You remained strong and determined took on huge challenges and won many battles but you have been badly treated by some on our own side which is dreadful.. but hey that’s is life. You have been and still are and will be an inspiration.. so glad I put you on the right path in 1997… (joking..) we fought together we won many battles and lost a few. I am glad I forced you to come back and do another term as branch secretary.. May the spirit of Brian always be with you my brother 😊🤗
You did some much for so many for 30 years always putting members first. So glad I was able to be at the award ceremony with you on Friday you deserve the honour but the NEC should have done more earlier for you. Proud to have worked with you for 20 years Lambeth will be a better place because of your efforts. Well done Jon of the Rogers known as Jon Rogers!
Congratulations Jon, a very well deserved award. May you long enjoy your life membership and your life with Hassina, and a very merry holiday season.
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