Regional Secretary’s Blog

UNISON Welcomes Kerry Baigent as the NEW South West Regional Secretary.

Kerry Baigent has been appointed as the new regional secretary for UNISON in the South West, the union has announced today (Friday 20th October).

She started in her new role this week and takes over from Joanne Kaye, who retired earlier this year. 

Kerry joined UNISON in 2014, initially working with the union’s health, local government and university branches in the Plymouth and Exeter areas. For the last five years, she has been managing UNISON’s Dorset and Somerset teams. 

Prior to joining UNISON, Kerry worked as a firefighter for 21 years, and was also active in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

She was the first female firefighter at Cambridge fire station and became head of the FBU branch there in 1994.

When firefighters went on strike in 2002/3 and 2014, Kerry led the dispute across Cambridgeshire. She was also national secretary to the FBU women’s committee for 15 years and worked hard to advance the position of women throughout the fire service.

Commenting on her appointment to the top UNISON job in the South West, Kerry Baigent said: “I am honoured to have been appointed and look forward to tackling the many challenges that lie ahead. Winning a better deal for public services in the region and for the dedicated public servants that run them is top of my list.  

“That includes supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis and getting healthcare assistants in the NHS on to the salary grade that better reflects the jobs they do. As well as pushing for fairer wages for low-paid care staff, and campaigning for a properly functioning care system across the region. 

“UNISON would always rather work with local employers to improve public services and the lives of the workers providing them. But where this proves impossible, sometimes the only option is to take strike action, as will be the case at Dorset disability charity Livability early next month.”

Stand with Sodexo Members – Sign our petition

On October 30th, SODEXO Ltd employees at North Devon District Hospital formally raised a grievance due to the company’s failure to provide the one-time non-consolidated lump sum payment, ranging from £1,250 to £1,600. Support members and SIGN THE PETITION TODAY Sodexo admit that our longstanding local collective agreement applies but just aren’t coming up trumps […]

Joanne Kaye on the picket line in Redruth with an ambulance in the background.

Blog: How to fall in love this Valentine’s Day*

The week of Valentine’s Day is now a week of celebration within the trade union movement. Joanne Kaye writes for Heart Unions Week 2023.

Joanne Kay raises a fist alongside picketing ambulance staff. An ambulance can be seen in the background and smoke rises from the nearby brazier.

Recap: On the Ambulance picket lines in Cornwall

On Wednesday 11th January, thousands of Ambulance workers took their second day of strike action in so many months.

Our regional secretary, Joanne Kaye, set herself a personal mission for the day – visit every picket line in Cornwall.

NDC Blog: Welcome to Brighton!

The sun is shining on Brighton seafront and the Brighton Centre plays host to UNISON’s 27th national delegate conference for the next four days.

Blog: Reflecting on International Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers Memorial Day is a day that always reminds me that we are stronger together as a collective, as a trade union. Marking the annual day of reflection is always a sombre occasion. It’s a day where we think of those that we have lost and those that have been seriously injured in the workplace. […]

“The world has changed, it would seem – or has it?”

Today, I’m part of an all woman senior management team with women organisers outnumbering men 19 to 15 plus a non-binary colleague. The world has changed, it would seem – or has it?

Sharing the love this ❤️Unions Week

Joanne Kaye celebrates ♥️Unions Week in her latest blog.

Blog: Heroes need more than medals and applause

Many of us were irked when the Mayday bank holiday was replaced by a VE Day holiday this year.  As a movement we’re uncomfortable about the celebration of war, even when it’s the war against fascism in Europe. The Covid-19 crisis is often likened to a war and gives too many male world leaders the […]

Blog: Men’s mental health at work – how unions can help men to open up

It’s a bit of a cliché – the strong and silent man, the stiff upper lip. But sometimes clichés are clichés because they contain a truth. The truth here is that men often don’t talk about their mental health, or indeed their feelings at all.

Blog: Go for Growth this May

At a time when union membership across the world is in decline, it’s UNISON that’s bucking the trend and standing up for more and more public service workers. As a result, we’re now the biggest union in the UK.

Blog: Today we not only mourn the dead, we also pledge to fight for the living

Today marks the day when we remember all those who died or have been seriously injured through their work. Joanne Kaye writes on International Workers’ Memorial Day. It is estimated that 50,000 die each year through their work. That equates to 140 people for every day of the year. It is relatively rare for our […]

Blog: UNISON will redouble the fight against racism

Earlier this year a Unison rep and nurse was on shift at Southmead Hospital in Bristol and discovered shocking racist graffiti, using words she hadn’t heard since the 1970s. Regional secretary Joanne Kaye writes from South West TUC’s annual conference at Croyde Bay. The nurse was so shaken and distressed by this she had to […]

Blog: Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s always a huge source of pride to me that UNISON is the largest women’s organisation in the UK. Regional secretary Joanne Kaye writes on International Women’s Day 2019. With over a million women members, we have the strongest voice on issues like the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, part time working and domestic abuse. Our […]

9 Sept rally for Bristol

Blog: The long march to end austerity

I’m marching on Saturday for the public service workers who make Bristol great. Regional secretary Joanne Kaye writes on why Bristol needs public investment, not more cuts. Ask any Bristolian and they’ll tell you: I’m proud of my city. Robin or gashead, Clifton heights or south of the river, new arrival or the latest in […]

Blog: Looking forward to your Bank Holiday?

It could be less secure than you think… If you’re one of the people lucky enough to get all four days off this Easter bank holiday, you’re probably looking forward to time with family and friends, recharging and maybe knocking a few items off the DIY to-do list. Of course, we mustn’t forget the thousands […]