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Why I'm a rep

Thank You Reps

We all know that FDA representatives do incredible work, whether they are representing their fellow members in personal cases or struggling to improve their workplace. But what pushes a member to take that step and become an activist? What spurs them to go above and beyond to help their union?

The following reps have told us a little about what drew them to this role, and what they find most rewarding about it.

Are you interested in becoming a rep yourself? Get in touch with your National Officer for more information.


"I joined the civil service because I wanted to make a difference to the world and do something worthwhile at work, and I see my role as an FDA rep as an extension of that. As employees, in order to achieve to our full potential sometimes we need support – we are stronger together and when I saw the work that the FDA did I realised that not only did it support individuals through any difficulties that they might have, but it also made us all stronger as a group. I see my work as a rep as part of my corporate contribution to the civil service and to society as a whole.

"In a diverse organisation such as ours, there are some colleagues who might be at risk of falling 'through the gaps' of administration – perhaps those with reasonable adjustments, caring responsibilities, or just those who end up in a difficult situation at work. In the Fast Stream, with its fast pace and constant changes of management and location, the risk can be even higher. I’ve found that being a rep allows me to use my skills to support, advise, and advocate for colleagues, ultimately helping them to get the most out of their Fast Stream experience and achieve their potential.” Alex Jarvis, Fast Stream

Marie Watton-rep

"I became an FDA rep a few years ago, after our then-Branch Convenor twisted my arm because she thought I would enjoy it.  

"Fast forward until the present day and I am now our Branch Convenor, a member of Section Committee and have just agreed to an increase in my facility time to 40% so I can help more members nationally with the issues that they are dealing with. I think it’s safe to say my colleague was right!!

"I have had the privilege in the last few years to be able to shape the way the Section has dealt with issues through my work on Section Committee, participated in national meetings and assisted negotiating important initiatives with Senior Management. Most importantly, I have helped colleagues both locally and nationally with personal casework." Marie Watton, Crown Prosecution Service 

Nick Smith-rep

"I became an FDA Rep because I was keen to take part in the discussions that affect us all in the workplace and better support colleagues. It's something I’d been thinking about for quite a while and decided that I needed to take the plunge.” Nick Smith, Department for International Trade


"When I was appointed to my present post in 1999, I soon became aware of serious unhappiness amongst colleagues regarding their wellbeing and working conditions. Staff–management relationships were at a low ebb. As I had always taken an active interest in trade union issues as a teacher and a college lecturer, I put my name forward for a vacancy on the FDA committee. After a brief spell on the committee, I was nominated as convenor, a post I have been proud to hold up to the present day. I have been fortunate and unfortunate in some respects, to have worked with four Chief Inspectors. Luckily, with each new Chief Inspector, relationships between managers and the FDA have improved considerably.

"It has been a pleasure to help FDA members with a range of personal, professional and financial issues. The most important aspect of my work as the convenor is to manage the local committee and liaising with managers. The most rewarding task has been negotiating pay settlements, though these have returned lower than expected rises for a number of years. 

"One of the strengths of our success in representing FDA members is our strong and vibrant committee. In the past, members were reluctant to join the committee as they perceived membership to be a barrier to their careers. This is no longer the case as we have no problem recruiting members to the committee, many of whom are long serving and effective committee members. The local committee has been supported very well by our national officers and staff at head office. Help is always at hand. Thoughtful and considered advice is always an email or telephone call away." Huw Collins, Estyn

Rob Cooper rep

"I joined the FDA when I started my first role at the civil service last year. A lot of my family are members of trade unions, and I’d seen first-hand the benefits of being a member. I like being able to support colleagues through difficult times, and becoming a rep seemed like a good opportunity to do this more widely.” Rob Cooper, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government


"I joined the FDA in 2007 as an economist fast streamer and by 2010 found myself as Fast Stream rep in the Department for Transport, and soon after branch secretary. I’m the first to admit that I didn’t quite know what I was signing up to but I was keen and everyone was willing to help and share their expertise – sometimes diving in the deep end is best!

"Fast forward to 2019 and I’ve just taken on the role of branch convenor and am now in the position of being that slightly wiser rep encouraging others to do their bit no matter how small. Representing our members in departmental negotiations and through one-to-one support is a privilege and responsibility I take seriously. But there is room for fun and learning too, from the support network I have built up over the years to the likes of the fantastic Women into Leadership conferences. That quiet girl in the corner now wears her FDA lanyard with pride!" Laura Marquis, Department for Transport 


"When I joined the FDA, I initially had no plans to become a rep. I believed that joining was an important thing to do, both in case I needed help myself and for fast streamers more widely, but I didn’t consider getting more involved. This changed after an FDA Fast Stream ‘Town Hall’ event. I saw how hard the committee were working to improve the working lives of all fast streamers, and had the chance to learn more about the position of union representative. On top of that, I hadn’t realised that trained reps are given ‘facility time’ by their departments to carry out their union duties, so I wouldn’t need to worry about taking time off to help out.

"Reps mainly assist with member casework, which is broadly helping our members with issues that may crop up in their jobs. It could be signposting them to resources or contacts that could help, discussing their options and giving them someone to talk to, or offering representation in meetings with management. Helping members, especially where I’ve been able to see positive change on the issues they brought to us, has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about navigating HR policies, employment law, and on how to be a listening ear to someone who is asking for help. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in doing a bit extra for their union and their fellow members.” Chris Matthews, Fast Stream

James Conway-rep

"For nearly five years, I’ve derived great satisfaction from being a member of the FDA Department for Transport’s Branch Executive Committee – this has been in a variety of roles, including branch convenor, equalities lead and SCS lead. From supporting colleagues on individual issues, to championing inclusion and collectively representing our interests in negotiations – it’s great to know that I’m part of the FDA team that’s constructively working to improve the work place and supporting civil servants to deliver important public services." James Conway, Department for Transport

James Conway-rep

"I was supported by FDA back in 2013, which motivated me to put something back in. I’d never had a need for my union in 34 years, and it made me realise how important unions are. I should have known this as I’d been active in NAPO in my earlier years, but 2013 made me realise that no matter how comfortable, diligent and hard working one is, you never know when things may rock your world and you need help. I therefore wanted to spread this word and help others. 

"I have to be honest, personal casework is what really motivates me, but the chance, through negotiations with senior management, to make a difference to policy and influence positive changes is very satisfying too. Some people may think that representing a union is career limiting, in my case in both times that I have become involved, it’s been an opportunity to be noticed and appreciated for contributions to changes that are positive for all. Of course we don’t always agree but management can see us as reps standing up for principles and values, which generally they will respect. It’s a great privilege to represent our members and I would say it’s the best thing I ever did." Barry Snelgrove, Ministry of Justice 

James Conway-rep

"I enjoy working to ensure my team and I are treated fairly at all times." Chris Daniels, Ministry of Justice

Interested in becoming an FDA rep?
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