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This year marks lots of anniversaries. The NHS is celebrating 70 years, UNISON is 25 years old, the service scheduling department is 20 years and the LAS UNISON Branch website is celebrating 15 years!
In July 2003 the London Ambulance Service branch of UNISON launched online. We were the first union to launch a website exclusively for London Ambulance staff and one of the first UNISON branches in the country to launch a website.
Back in 2003 the Labour Party was in government with Tony Blair as prime minister. George Bush was the US President and Vladimir Putin was president of Russia. (some things don’t change) 2003 was also the year the Blu-ray disc was launched and the social network ‘MySpace’ was launched. They were both tipped to be huge but Facebook and online streaming soared ahead and left them standing.
UNISON itself was just 10 years old having formed in 1993 when three public sector trade unions, the National and Local Government Officers Association, the National Union of Public Employees and the Confederation of Health Service Employees merged.
Meanwhile, we were heavily involved in the Agenda 4 Change (A4C) negotiations that were to replace the Whitley council pay board and resulted in substantial wage increases. There was so much A4C information at that time that having a website was essential in getting the necessary information out to members quickly and efficiently. You can see on the screenshot a big button regarding the upcoming vote.
Some of the stories at the time were about previous NHS underfunding by the conservatives when they were in power. Ambulance staff at NEAS in dispute about not being paid for meal breaks and violence against ambulance staff.
Over the years we have revamped the website several times adopting new technology as it became available, while keeping costs to a minimum. When we first launched online, most members would access the site from a service computer. It seems hard to imagine now but there were no smartphones and not everyone was connected at home. There were lots of restrictions placed on the service computers so we were unable to add some technologies, but as soon as we could, we added them.
In 2007 the iPhone was launched by Apple and this was probably the biggest game changer since we had launched. Slowly smartphones became the norm and the speeds increased. Now members could access the website on their phone. But our site wasn’t mobile friendly. So we launched an app. This was available on all platforms and was a success for several years until we converted the entire site into a new format that would adjust to whatever device you are using. Mobile, Tablet, Notebook, Laptop or Desktop. No matter how small or large your screen is our site will adjust.
In 2009 we launched on Twitter and a year later we launched our Facebook page. These social networking sites have enabled us to gain a better reach and allows us to quickly highlight issues to members and direct them to the full story on the website. More recently we have launched local Facebook groups. Unlike our main Facebook page which is open to everyone, (even if not logged into Facebook) these groups are restricted to members only. This makes it a safe place to discuss issues and interact with your local reps.
Currently we have the following Facebook groups:
- East Central Sector – http://www.eastcentral.lasunison.com
- South West Sector – http://www.southwest.lasunison.com
- South East and Central Sector – http://www.southeast.lasunison.com
- West Sector – http://www.west.lasunison.com
We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with members and welcome any suggestions you may have. It is so important that we are able to get information to members quickly especially in this era of ‘fake news’ so we can debunk the myths and ensure our members know the facts.
We also occasionally need to contact you via post so please get in touch with us via the ‘update form‘ and make sure we have all your up to date contact details including:
- Postal Address
- E-Mail Address
- Mobile Phone Number
We can then keep you updated on what is happening within UNISON and your branch and if you do have any suggestions on other ways we could stay in touch then use the ‘contact us‘ form to tell us.
So, as UNISON turns 25 and our website turns 15, I am excited to see how we can develop over the next 15/25 years…………………..
Here are some screenshots from the last few years: