Thursday, 27 November 2008

The last day of the conference

And also the day that Conor and I were to make our joint presentation. We resisted the temptation to get dressed up again - that royal blue feather boa was something else - though for some of the time I wore it I was literally spitting feathers as it moulted a bit! So to a small but very interested audience we talked about the project that Conor works for and the genesis of my visit. I described UNISON and my role in Scotland. The challenges faced for us in organising and supporting members within the Community & Voluntary Sector, the similarities and the differences in these for New Zealand (just about the same) and UNISON's strategies for tackling these.

It was a really good session with some thoughtful questions after - one from a real Scot, one of several that I have met since I've been here.

After a brief break to get our luggage (tons of it) into Jane's truck (more on this later) I was interviewed by a journalist from Reuters working on behalf of "Employer Today" magazine. There should be an article featuring my visit and looking at differences in TU organisation in the January edition.

The conference closed at lunch time with another formal Maori ceremony but I missed that as I was whisked off to a meeting of PSA National Organisers in the centre of Auckland. Over a working lunch I made a briefer and more TU focussed presentation to about a dozen of their staff from across New Zealand - they had also invited 2 organisers from the SFWU. Again there were some great questions and it was fascinating to see that not only are the problems similar but the strategies for tackling organisational issues are similar too.

Some knew as much about Agenda for Change as I do because Mike Jackson was there not so long ago. Well done Mike! One had been to Glasgow and remembered a UNISON official who had something to do with health but had taken him to a football match.......................

After this Jane arrived in her truck to collect Conor, Anne and myself and drove us to Hamilton. Jane works for Community Waikato, one of the projects that is part of Workplace Wellbeing and is Conor's boss. She is part Scots and part Maori and a truly beautiful woman in many ways.

Anne is a professor at the University of New South Wales and leads a team that has been developing an assessment tool to enable workers within the sector to identify their skills and skill levels. A stage before job evaluation. I hear several ears pricking and eyes widening! I'll be bringing copies back. Anne was also one of the 'famous 5' in the student accommodation.

Jane lives in a small town close to Hamilton and she took us the scenic route to the motel we were staying at. Photo's and commentary to follow - need to make sure I get the spellings right.

The motel is great, straight out of the 70's - surrounded by trees and flowers and so many birds - they make a fabulous racket!

We had dinner in the garden at Jane's with her family (sorry I know the weather is c*** in Scotland right now) which was fabulous. Cooking is another of her many talents.

After dinner we adjourned to her work shop and spent the next hours compiling 50 copies of Mana Mahi - an employment resource for the sector. This comprises 6 booklets, 17 sets of guidance notes, an introduction and a CD all in a cardboard wallet. To save costs we were to fold and glue the wallets and then fill them. The pack is a very beautiful purple which fortunately matches perfectly with a jacket I have and am wearing today as it also matches my finger tips! There are another 950 to put together.

Today has been the first of the travelling seminars that link all of the strands together and the first official launch of the pack. I'll say more about it later but it's coming to a close and I need to be part of the final session.

NZ, Thursday afternoon.

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