Hi everyone, I apologise for the length of this post but writing it seemed to me to be the best way of getting a message to as many friends, family, colleagues and especially CWU members as possible.
On the rumours.
Firstly, let me address the speculation that initially did the rounds on social media that my absence was due to me being sacked and did not have the support or confidence of my union. It would be dishonest to say that such speculation wasn’t extremely disappointing, hurtful and stressful (at a time when I was at a low point). Of course in my absence, time has proven that these accusations, which were also fed to the national press (I was contacted by national journalists regarding these rumours) were the work of people who wanted to undermine my credibility, integrity and my position as lead negotiator for our postal members.
It was a lie and a shameful attempt to drive a wedge. They know who they are and what they were doing, indeed management had covertly been spreading the rumour that I was the problem and would not do a deal or make an agreement (after over 30 years of making agreements). I’ll give them one thing, on that they were damn right, I certainly would not make an agreement on the issues they are imposing on postal workers now.
If unchecked their proposals will wreck this great postal service, pull up the ladder on the next generation of workers, attack the terms and conditions and working arrangements of current members and drive out - in the most undignified way - an ageing workforce. It’s disrespectful and disgraceful and your strength and resolve in the face of that is so inspiring. In respect of the rumour that branches, reps and members had no confidence in me I consider that utterly ridiculous.
Unless I’m deluding myself, I believe that we have now and always shared a mutual and unconditional loyalty and respect between us.
Sadly, some perpetuated the rubbish and it played its part in an episode that resulted in me being in A&E.
Many will recall I had a heart attack in 2015 which left me with what is diagnosed as chronic heart disease and despite managing my condition with daily medication and due care, this past year I have felt my energy levels drop quite significantly.
However, we were in the thick of it and there is only one way to lead and that is from the front and whole heartedly. I hope people will recognise that I have always given it everything, with nothing left behind, certainly I know I have. I then find myself in A&E and the Doctors were not happy with the test results on my heart at all, so I am still now undergoing continued tests to determine if I need a physical intervention or greater medication to protect me. I am seeing first hand the incredible strain that our great NHS is under and appointments and procedures are very slow.
The frontline NHS people are amazing but the system needs major investment and attention.
There is however another battle that I find myself in and this is a hard one to be open about. The anxiety, anger and frustration of my failing health, the terrifying thought of a second heart attack, my inability to be doing my job, the actions of management and the invented bullshit to assassinate my character, has resulted in mental anxiety and depression issues.
So, to CWU members - and not to diminish in any way from your massive collective battle - I hope you understand that for the moment I’m forced to concentrate on my very personal, physical and mental health battle which I am determined to win but have been told it will take time.
There is no doubt that thousands of postal workers around the country will also be facing stress, anxiety and other mental ill health issues as a result of this attack on their working lives and to say that weighs heavy on me also would be an understatement. I felt it important for me to continue to show leadership in speaking about my mental health and underlining the importance of your own. It does not discriminate, regardless of who you are or how strong you are perceived, so please look after yourselves and drop any ego that may defer the treatment you need. Please speak out and seek help.
I hope this helps people understand my absence and my situation. Before switching off, I would like to send a massive, heartfelt thank you to all those who have sent messages, voicemails, cards and letters with their best wishes and words of support and those that have enquired about my well-being.
On behalf of me and my family, I thank you sincerely.
As always I am with you in spirit and solidarity.