Ruth Jones, the new CSP senior negotiating officer for Wales and the West Midlands, says representing members can be very rewarding.
There when you need me
Tell us about your new role
As a senior negotiating officer for the CSP, I need to relate to the stewards and health and safety reps in my areas and take on any of the more complex cases that stewards may need to pass on. That said, local stewards are really competent and tend to represent CSP members at a local level on most issues.
I am also involved in the strategic work with the West Midlands Social Partnership Forum and the All Wales Partnership Forum. These forums involve full-time officers working alongside local reps to develop partnership working with trust and health board senior managers to develop policies and deal with longer-term issues.
What is your background?
I qualified as a physiotherapist in 1983 and have worked in many different areas over the years although my real passion is neurology. I specialised in paediatrics and have really enjoyed the last 10 to 15 years working in this area. I ended up managing the children’s and adult learning disability services at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in south Wales. It was good to become the manager but I did miss contact with patients. During my working life I have always been involved in the trade union aspects of the job. I have been a steward, a regional steward and a member of CSP Council and was honoured to be the Wales TUC president in 2007. I found the steward’s role was a great add-on to the day job. It gave me great transferable skills such as being able to present to large groups, analysing documents and persuasively arguing a case.
These skills are also brilliant when dealing with family members. As I had trained and spent over 30 years being a hands-on physio I began to feel frustrated in my role as a manager. When this role was advertised I discussed it with family and friends and they immediately said that it was just the job I was looking for.
Tell us about a rewarding interaction with a member
It’s difficult to select just one – I’m going to be greedy and pick two. The first is representing a member who had been suspended for eight months. She was really upset by the proceedings and was having difficulties coping. I was able to reassure her and represent her at the formal hearing where our arguments were accepted and the member was exonerated and returned to work immediately. Seeing her reaction was such a great experience after all she had been through.
The second type of interaction is with a group of stewards. I really enjoy meeting groups and finding out what are the issues and what makes them ‘tick’. Everyone has different reasons for getting involved in stewarding and I really enjoy getting to know people and working with them. That’s one of the best parts of the role.
How many members are you supporting at present?
It’s difficult to state an exact number as many members are supported by their local steward and I am just in the background for advice when necessary. Some cases are just telephone queries which can be sorted out easily.
Any foreign trips coming up this year?
I have already been to Vietnam but we are going to Sardinia this month and I’m looking forward to that. We have a static caravan in west Wales and we tend to go for a weekend whenever possible. Otherwise, I am determined to get our garden sorted out this year so that it has more plants than weeds.
- Ruth Jones is the new CSP senior negotiating officer for Wales and the West Midlands
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