Sean Halsall, 35, worked as a bus driver for Arriva in Southport for 16 years. He was recruited to Unite during a training session and went on to become the rep at his workplace for six years, the youth rep for the transport road section of Unite and to sit on the European Transport Workers Federation.
There’s a long history of trade unionism in Sean’s family with three of his four grandparents all having been shop stewards. His gran, who came over from Ireland worked in the NHS and his dad was the branch secretary at the same bus station where Sean worked.
“Being a rep is definitely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” said Sean.
It was during a strike at the bus station in 2017 that Sean’s talent really caught the eye of Unite. Regional officer Neil Clarke saw the work Sean had put in to the strike – organising campaign materials and rallying members.
“I’d never considered a career in politics. I had always wanted to be an officer for Unite,” said Sean. “But Neil and another local officer, Alison Spencer-Scragg, suggested standing for council.”
“I attended Unite’s regional and national political schools and was part of Unite’s future candidate program, which was by far the most useful course I’ve done for getting practical skills,” he added.
Sean was successfully elected as Labour councillor for Sefton borough council in May 2019. He represents residents in Bootle, Sefton Central and Southport.
“Without the help and support from Unite I’d have never developed the skills and confidence needed to get me where I am now,” said Sean.
To anyone not already a member of a union Sean says, “You only have to look at the comparison between unionised workplaces pay and terms and conditions to those of non-unionised workplaces to see that you need that support on your side.
“Union fees will be the best value for money you ever get. Don’t just be a passive member though. Get active and really engage with your union as that’s the best way to really make a difference and make your workplace better.”
By Jody Whitehill