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Andrew Woodman
Job title
Regional Officer
More than one hundred care workers in Wales are to see their pay and conditions improve after their company, Adferiad, signed a new recognition deal with UNISON.

Here UNISON’s regional officer Andrew Woodman tells the Solidarity Hub about how a long relationship-building process led to a new deal that will improve life at work for scores of low paid workers. 

Andrew said: “I inherited this campaign when I took over the sector from a colleague of mine. I was enthusiastic about it because in my 20-odd years with UNISON, new recognition agreements are rarer than hens’ teeth."

“The branch did some fantastic work to build relationships with the chief executive of Adferiad, and I started to feel really optimistic. It was clear to me that there was an opportunity to do something here that doesn’t happen very often.” 

After months of negotiating, UNISON and Adferiad got their recognition agreement to a place where all parties were ready to sign, and on Workers Memorial Day (28 April), the union and employer held a signing ceremony to mark the occasion. 

Andrew said: “It couldn’t have been better in terms of timing."

“There was a ceremony going on outside the Unite office to celebrate Workers’ Memorial Day, and there we were on the second floor signing a new recognition agreement."

Adferiad chief executive Alun Thomas, UNISON Ymlaen branch secretary Pat Jones, UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary Jess Turner and UNISON Cymru/Wales regional organiser Andrew Woodman

“We are a team, both in the wider UNISON and in the branch itself, and nothing happens unless we are all pulling in the same direction. On this, we were, and although it took longer than I wanted it to, we’ve got the result for our members. They will enjoy better terms and conditions, and we will have a stable base with the employer to build upon."

“Most employers in the care sector only come across us when something goes wrong. This gives us the opportunity to shape things at the outset: better pay and better terms and conditions."

“If things go wrong, we will tend to hear about them first and we can get a better outcome for our members: things like safeguarding, job security, negotiating over everything, not in a pointless way but in a productive way because it’s all set out in the agreement.” 

UNISON now has 100 members at Adferiad, and Andrew says the union is already making plans to grow membership at the company. 

Andrew said: “I met the chief executive at the signing ceremony, and we are on the same page. It’s quite refreshing."

“We're holding several joint events with the employer, where we are going to go along and present the case for trade union membership to the staff. I’m sure when we look back on this year we may be able to double our membership.” 

In terms of next steps for UNISON’s Adferiad members, Andrew says it starts with the workers. 

“The first thing we will be doing is listening: both to the employer and to the workers. I like to ask: ‘what is important to you? Is it pay? Is it other things like annual leave?"

“The worst thing we can do is make assumptions. Initially I will talk little and listen more to try and gather as much information as possible from the members to see what is important to them."

“It doesn’t happen by itself: these are some of the lowest paid workers that we organise and they don’t enjoy the best terms and conditions, so anything we can do to try and make that better we try and do.” 

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