The Union: United as One

by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director

Last month we resurrected a long-standing FUW event – the annual Business Conference. such an event hadn’t taken place for the best part of six years – but what a joy it was to see all the union staff and insurance staff coming together once again.

With over 100 staff in attendance, the atmosphere was buzzing well before the planned start time with excitement and anticipation and without doubt, there was a real sense of belonging in the room. and even before the day itself, there was a wide sense of anticipation running throughout the organisation. On the day we even started early – which is a first in my time in the union – as everyone had arrived well before time.

On the first morning, looking at everyone present, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of excitement. there is one heck of a bank of knowledge and experience in the team. It is obvious for all to see and it is essential that we get it focused with some group-thinking so that we can continue to do our best for members and customers alike.

We polled everyone present and found that some staff have been with us for over 35 years, having spent almost their entire working career with us. there were others who are starting to cross the decade mark but there is also a new, younger set of staff. that combination has to be a winner – a wonderful mix of age and experience combined with youthful energy. that makes for a strong, well-balanced team.

there have been rumblings recently that the union staff and insurance staff were drifting apart. Rumblings that there was a disconnect and a rift. that it is not what I saw at the aBC. I saw friends coming together, I saw work colleagues who had known each other for many years and the newer staff all getting together positively to embrace the idea of working together.

Our key message was to reinforce our internal group vision – “the Union: United – as One”. this is a vision that will see us all working as one and supporting one another as successful teams do. It’s something that has been going on in parts of the team for a few years but spreading the net wider will make us even stronger, more effective and ultimately far more efficient. and everyone will be working together to a common goal.

I can’t underestimate the challenge and one of the keys to success will be to develop far better internal communication than we have had in the recent past so that everyone knows what is happening and how they fit into the bigger picture.

But we have already set several challenges about cutting costs, increasing revenue, making sure our people are trained and developed and exploring how we can get a better understanding of our customer and membership through better customer research and data analysis. there’s good positive work in each of these areas and I will report back more in due course.

We have set-up a new managers group, which includes staff from insurance and the union and they are looking at new ways of working together, making efficiencies, finding ways of better looking after our people and improving our systems and data.

and none of this will threaten what we hold dear in so many ways. there are no threats to our county structures, no county offices will close, no jobs will be lost. We are instead focusing on the positives of growth and overall delivering enough income for the Union’s Vision of “thriving, sustainable Family Farms in Wales” to be delivered.

We know that the FUW exists because of those family farms, it’s where we came from and it’s what our members want. By adopting and strengthening this group approach we ensure that our members and the organisation are protected not just now but also in the future. and we know that it protects far more than just farmers and their farms, it helps communities.

In the coming weeks, we will be further developing group strategic business plans, finalising our company values and then getting ready to have them endorsed by the Grand Council meeting in the summer.

Until then, let me assure you – this Union is working together, United as One.

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