5 minutes with Paul Summers
UNISON Cymru Wales has a new head of health. We caught up with Paul Summers to welcome him to the role and fire a few questions at him. Paul joined the regional management team in January as a year’s maternity cover.
Paul, welcome to UNISON in Wales. Isn’t that a scouse accent?
Yes it is. I was born and raised in Liverpool.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I was a NALGO member and branch organiser for Sefton local government branch in Liverpool. Then I was appointed regional organiser in the Northern region and spent two years in Newcastle. In 2008, I became a regional organiser in the North West region and was working there until my appointment in Wales in January.
What have your representations for health members in England taught you?
Beware of privatisation of health services. In England, a lot of NHS Trusts are significantly underfunded by the UK government and as a result some have chosen to outsource cleaning, catering, security and porter services.
I also learnt never to trust a Tory with the NHS. The situation is much better in Wales but we must be ever-vigilant against privatisation.
You’ve only been in the role a short time, have you had chance to identify any priorities?
I want to support our health branches and activists in their excellent recruitment work and in particular redouble our efforts with student nurses so UNISON is the union for student nurses and NHS staff in Wales.
Looking wider, our NHS and public services are deliberately underfunded by the UK government. The Tory austerity measures are unnecessary and have failed, so we continue to campaign for an end to cuts. The introduction of a Robin Hood Tax would allow public services in Wales to meet the needs of the Welsh people and deliver excellent services. I want all health branches (as well as other Cymru Wales branches) and Assembly Members to sign up to the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
Is there a message you would like to give to UNISON Cymru Wales health members?
I’m looking forward to being in Wales for the next twelve months. I want to work in partnership with activists in branches to ensure our members receive the support they need when they need it.
UNISON is the biggest and best union in Wales and we want to support the members we have and grow the union so that our negotiating power becomes even stronger than it is.
2019 is #YearOfTheYoungWorker and we’ll be looking to encourage as many young workers as possible to become active in the union
Who will you be supporting in the Six Nations?
Wales! As an Evertonian, I probably have a closer connection to Wales than England!