By Robert Poole NEU Secondary rep, Greater Manchester

My school hasn't had a rep in over five years. The last one left and no one wanted to stick their head above the parapet. There was a feeling that to do so would put a target on your back. The current pandemic changed this though. People were feeling lost, Government advice changed daily and I could see that someone needed to step up. I put my name forward to be the National Education Union (NEU) workplace representative and an online vote took place, leading to me being elected to the role. 

My first step was to find out what issues my colleagues had. I decided that in the current situation an online meeting was the best way to do this. I emailed members and set up a WhatsApp group, which has made communication much easier. The meeting was well attended and it was clear that having a voice in the workplace was something people felt was very important. One issue kept being repeated. The uncertainty around pay. Would we get the cost of living increase? Would the effect of the pandemic be taken under account during performance management? In these uncertain times it's important to know that especially knowing that your bills will be rising.  

My next step was to arrange a meeting with my head teacher. She has always made it clear that she wants good industrial relations and was happy to meet me and discuss members concerns. The model letter provided online was very useful for preparing me for the discussion. The meeting went better than expected. I was assured that all staff would get the party increase and all eligible staff would make pay progression. I was assured that this would be fed back to staff. 

The next step is a feedback meeting and to plan our next campaign.