Closing address from Mandate President Denise Curran at 2022 BDC

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Delegates, guests

To close conference I would like to start by offering some words of thanks.

Firstly to the Breaffy Hotel for all they’ve done regards the venue and accommodation. It’s fair to say that despite the pressures they’re under regards catering for a number of the Ukrainian refugees staying here, they’ve done a remarkable job in hosting us.

I’d also like to thank the Standing Orders Committee for their arduous task of ensuring that the conference timelines and the, appropriate adherences to rule guidance throughout the event.

Thanks should also be served on those members of the outgoing for NEC who whatever reason will not be on the NEC for 2022/2024. No matter your thoughts on how the outgoing NEC performed during its time, it shouldn’t be lost on all of us that those people gave freely of their own personal time to do their level best to ensure as far as possible that our union ran its best course throughout the most challenging of times for all of us. It’s fair to say we didn’t always get it right but at equally, we didn’t always get it wrong.

Regards our new NEC, I would ask that they stay behind at the close of conference as we’ve some short work to do in putting in place the necessary sub-committee arrangements/structures to exercise our work for the next 2 years.

Delegates we finally had our conference. It’s been interesting and certainly, in all my times attending Mandate conferences – and there are probably far too many for me to say, as it would give away my age – this conference more than others threw up incidences, I and probably many of you never experienced before. Obviously it had to happen when I chaired conference!!!

That said the same incidences not only served as an educational experience – for me at least – regards the conference workings, but very importantly demonstrates the importance of delegate participation whether that be to move motions, formulate union policy, make changes to rule and as we seen challenge the established norms and practices that is the conference. Those challenges as we’ve seen at this conference, should not be considered as disruptive or negative, but rather are the very examples of delegates exercising their rights to democratically express their thoughts and views. Dissension is part of those democratic processes enshrined in the workings of conference. The opportunity to oppose is threaded through each part of our speaking and voting rights. In my view long may it continue.

To finish delegates I believe conferences affords us as an organisation to reset. This conference more than all that have gone before, is more demanding of us pressing that reset button. We’ve had 4 years of a gap between this and the last conference. 2 of those were predominantly dealing with a hellish situation regards the Covid pandemic. We are now facing into certain economic impact unknowns such as Brexit and the Ukrainian situation. Whilst  we will not know the full economic impact of these 3 seismic events, we do know that in the bar and retail worlds we work and live in, the employers will need no further reasons to again attack our terms and conditions and rates of pay. More than ever we need to be prepared. We can only do this by being absolutely foolproof organised in our workplaces. Organised to the point that we’re ready to mobilise where and when necessary, the fight against such attacks. We must do this not only in our workplaces but where necessary lending a hand and spreading this simple message of organising in those other workplaces within and outside of our respective employments. We shouldn’t and we certainly cannot afford an individualistic approach to defending and improving our lot at work. That runs against the very ethos and principles of trade unionism. It certainly runs against who and what we are in Mandate.

Whilst you probably aren’t feeling the most enthused and energetic at this very moment  given the socialising that has been going on, I would implore you delegates  to return to your workplaces wherever they are  and build the model that is organised to the point it is ready to be mobilised. Our future is in our hands at this moment, let’s not pass that up. If we do then our children will be next.

Delegates I look forward , as I’m sure the incoming NEC does too, to working with you and other fellow activists over the next 2 years.

There’s a lot to be done but we have the means, it’s now about the will. Thank you delegates. You’ve been a joy. Safe journey home.