I originally served on 'Cutters' between 1994 and 1999 before returning to the South East region and gaining promotion to a regional maritime team.
It therefore appeared a natural fit for me to become SE branch lead on maritime.
The cutters have been utilised over the past few years in a joint EU initiative for search and rescue duties in the Mediterranean, undertaking a vital humanitarian role to reduce the loss of life of the desperate migrants attempting to reach Europe.
Current maritime cutter deployments to the English Channel have again highlighted the physical and mental demands placed on our members in undertaking this type of work.
The types of issues range from terms and conditions/contracts and officers suffering PTSD, to outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease.
PCS membership continues to increase, and I suspect, this is largely due to the challenging working environment.
How I became a rep
I became a local rep for flexible resources in South East England in 2013 after becoming disillusioned with my HO role. I was no longer able to fully influence the business.
I believed that the only way to get my voice heard and establish positive change was to become a rep.
The department had been going through huge changes as it transitioned into Border Force. Staff were deployed to work in different areas and conduct new work duties.
This together, with reduced staffing, dilution to management through new promotees and policy changes, gave rise to an increased number of personal cases.
I was keen to get involved and to support my fellow PCS members.
Flexible resources were used to fill gaps at Stanstead, Gatwick, Heathrow and any locations in northern France.
I felt that as staff numbers decreased and the remaining staff were expected to undertake more and more work, an experienced HO and PCS rep would give a more equal voice in the workplace, to challenge and ensure that less palatable initiatives could be reduced.
Winning the Paul McGoay Award
I am very honoured. Although I didn’t know Paul personally, I understand Paul was a great PCS activist.
It is very humbling for me to receive the award as I see this as my everyday work, but it is great that I have been recognised in this way.
PCS is not about the individual but being part of a team and I am surrounded by a tremendous team in the South East England branch office.
I became ABS in February 2018 and have found the transition from local rep to branch officer seamless due to my supportive team.
I believe that the only way to sustain and increase activity in PCS is by meeting ordinary members to ascertain what issues they have.
The latest pay ballot and Big Conversation gave the opportunity for reps to engage with members. Although it was disappointing not to get the 50% turnout, it highlighted some excellent work had been undertaken and for us to be better organised for next time.