The Solidarity 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place in February. This year, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, it took place online for the first time. Motions debated and passed by members at the AGM included:
Urging consumers to buy British
promotion of the UK industrial and scientific base
improving the rights of UK fishermen
and a Constitutional motion (passed with amendments) setting out the rules for the Union’s Benevolent Fund.
Members at the AGM got the chance to put forward their views on how to develop our union and question officials. A key area of discussion concerned how the union had been affected by and adapted to the pandemic. All agreed that despite adverse circumstances the union had been able to maintain a high level of service to members. Conference also discussed the likely wave of redundancies this year and how the union would organise to meet increased calls for help from both existing and new members. The consensus was that the union should increase efforts in training new representatives and establish a panel of legal advisors who could be called on to assist with cases. Administrative back-up would also need to increase to meet demand.
The AGM also heard a detailed report from the general secretary, Patrick Harrington. Reflecting on the past year he noted that "We never closed". If anything, the pandemic had deepened our relationship with our members as individual case consultations over Zoom or Teams had become more common. He said that union resources had been stretched to provide representation at redundancies, help with benefit applications, deal with bogus disciplinaries and handle issues relating to Personal Protective Equipment. We had got through this but the demand for our services would continue to increase and we had to plan for that.
Pat also spoke of the success of our campaigns, especially the ones around the theme of buying British. He said that we had a unique perspective as a union that believed in the British people and their ability to build a strong industrial and scientific base. He declared that the "doomers" who said Britain couldn't produce high-quality products were wrong. Amongst our diverse population is all the talent we need to invent and manufacture world-beating goods and services he said. Pat gave examples of British innovation in bioscience and clean energy technology.
The meeting closed with a rousing address from our President, Glen Nicklasson.