UNISON appoints new regional secretary in South West
By Cat Hage | 24th October 2023
Kerry Baigent has been appointed as the new regional secretary for UNISON in the South West and takes over from Joanne Kaye, who retired earlier this year.
Kerry joined UNISON in 2014, initially working with the union's health, local government and university branches in the Plymouth and Exeter areas. For the last five years, she has been managing UNISON's Dorset and Somerset teams.
Prior to joining UNISON, Kerry worked as a firefighter for 21 years and was also active in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
She was the first female firefighter at Cambridge fire station and became head of the FBU branch there in 1994.
When firefighters went on strike in 2002/3 and 2014, Kerry led the dispute across Cambridgeshire. She was also national secretary to the FBU women's committee for 15 years and worked hard to advance the position of women throughout the fire service.
Kerry Baigent commented on her appointment at UNISON job and said: "I am honoured to have been appointed and look forward to tackling the many challenges that lie ahead. Winning a better deal for public services in the region and for the dedicated public servants who run them is top of my list.
"That includes supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis and getting healthcare assistants in the NHS on to the salary grade that better reflects the jobs they do. As well as pushing for fairer wages for low-paid care staff, and campaigning for a properly functioning care system across the region.
"UNISON would always rather work with local employers to improve public services and the lives of the workers providing them. But where this proves impossible, sometimes the only option is to take strike action, as will be the case at Dorset disability charity Livability early next month."
UNISON is the UK's largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. Members are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
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