UNISON Northern Ireland

UNISON young member speaks out about facility time

Facility time is a fundamental right of trade unionists in the workplace. It ensures we support our members at disciplinaries, and that policies of the organisation’s our members work for are scrutinised and negotiated effectively.

Jamie Coyle, from Northern Health branch, spoke about access to facility time at UNISON’s National Delegate Conference in Liverpool.

"This my first time speaking at any UNISON conference. I have worked in the health service for 5 years and I joined the union from the start. I was on a temporary contract for nearly 4 years but now I’m a permanent worker in the car park in Antrim Hospital.

Earlier this year one of the UNISON organisers encouraged me to put myself forward as a steward. I finished my training in May and the Branch Committee also sent me to the UNISON Young Member’s Weekend in Belfast which was brilliant. I now have friends from other branches.

To mark the year of the young worker, our branch has organised a campaign challenging youth poverty. There are about 300 young workers in my hospital and our campaign is about decent pay and proper jobs.

I’m the steward for the car park section but in our branch all stewards share representation on sickness absence and stage 1 and 2 grievances and disciplinaries. I am about to do my first one. 

I don’t have a problem getting release because it is part of the overall agreement with the health service in Northern Ireland, but I know my manager is not too happy about it. 

The important thing is that our branch is actively looking for young people to take on roles in the union.

I know that isn’t the case for everybody so I support this motion. I want to say to everybody at conference it is important to make space for us, the younger generation because we are the people who will have to take the trade union struggle forward in the future.”