Unite has evolved through various trade union mergers, most notably in recent times via the merger of the Managerial, Science & Finance union and the Amalgamated Engineering & Electrical Union in 2002 to form Amicus, then via the amalgamation of Amicus & the Transport & General Worker Union in 2007 to form Unite, one of Britain's biggest trade unions, with some 1.5 million members.
Unite's Bracknell Branch has been around in one guise or another for well over 50 years. Originally it consisted mainly of members concentrated in manufacturing firms in and around Bracknell. Nowadays, with the decline of manufacturing and the growth of high-tech industries, our members work mostly in the various local IT businesses. Because of the decline of manufacturing, membership of the original Branch had dwindled to ~100 by 2000. But a merger with Thames Valley IT Branch in 2006, brought in some 150 extra members and, after that, our membership increased rapidly settling at ~500 over the last 3 or 4 years. Of course there are many other Unite members in other branches in Bracknell Forest organised according to their occupation/workplace and, via Community Membership, which costs just 50p per week, Unite has recently opened ifs doors to people who might not belong normally belong to a union because they are not in paid employment.
Branch members meet at 7.30 pm. on the first Monday in January March, May, July, September and November except when that date falls on a Bank Holiday, in which case if will be held a week later. We have light refreshments and a free raffle at all meetings and we aim to offer any members who attend a warm welcome. We invariably have expert guess speakers to talk on a wide range of topics chosen by our members to provide an evening which will be informative, stimulating and enjoyable.
The Branch is very much a campaigning Branch, principally fighting for its own members struggling to preserve their pension and employment conditions at companies such as Fujitsu, but also alongside local FBU, Unison, GMB and other trade unionists fighting similar battles. The Branch, almost alone, opposed the transfer of the Council’s housing stock to a housing association back in 2007 and, through the independent local campaign group, Docs, (Defend Our Community Services), which if helped to set up in 2010, is challenging cuts in vital local services. Through DOCS Unite members have fought against NHS fragmentation and privatisation, successfully halting the planned closure of Heatherwood, and are now pressing for the restoration of facilities there that have been cut in recent years. And, via the DOCS offshoot, People’s Healthwatch, set up in 2013, Unite members are involved in monitoring the new local bureaucracy set up in the wake of the Health & Social Care Act.
The Branch receives £3000 - £4000 p.a. of the subscription contributions paid by its members. It is run entirely by volunteers who contribute many hundreds of hours a year to running their Branch but claim only minimal expenses. Consequently, the Branch is able to give ~£2000 each year to various charitable and campaigning groups, nominated by members, doing important work in our own area and, elsewhere in the World, on social justice and human rights. The Branch is invariably fully officered. Current Branch Officers, elected at this years AGM in January are:
Chairman: Terry Pearce,
Vice-Chair: Val Pearce,
Treasurer: Glenn Christina,
Secretary: Ed Glasson
Press Officer: Mike Adams,
Community Liaison Officer: James Bibey,
Equalities Officer: Val Pearce