New to the NEC: Tom James

New to the NEC: Tom James

Tom James, one eight new members of the National Executive Committee, introduces himself to the wider membership

Tom James

Tell us about your day job

I am a senior electrical design engineer for BAE Systems. I produce installation specifications for the integration of new equipment into Royal Navy & Royal Fleet auxiliary ships.

How long have you been in Prospect and why was it important for you to join a trade union?

I joined Prospect in 2002, however, before I joined the Royal Navy I was a member of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EEPTU) from 1970-1975.

My grandfather and uncles were all in the National Union of Miners (NUM) and my father was a member of National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS), so you could say trade unionism is in my blood.

What’s your proudest moment so far as a Prospect member or rep?

I am probably proudest of being elected to the NEC for the first time in 2014, although winning my first personal case is a close second.

How has Prospect been of benefit to you in your career and professional development?

I believe the Prospect training courses I have attended, and sharing knowledge and experiences with other members have contributed to making me a better rep and a better engineer.

Why did you decide to stand for the NEC?

I decided to stand again for the NEC as I feel that I still have much to offer, and governance can only benefit from diversity. This is why I am happy to see younger members stepping up to the challenge, and taking responsibility for their own futures.

What are of some of the workplace issues that you hope to make a difference on as part of the NEC?

Since our members have such diverse issues, it is difficult to pick specific areas although I expect the gender pay gap and respect at work will be high on the agenda. 

As a member of the NEC, how will you approach some of the difficult decisions that might pit the interests of close colleagues in your own sector against the greater good of the whole union?

The purpose of the NEC is to make those difficult decisions when they are necessary. For me, the answer is in the question; if it is for the greater good of the union, how can anyone object?

What’s your message to a colleague who is perhaps reluctant to join a union?

No one is forced to join a union, it is a matter of personal choice but there is strength in unity. It is easy to break a single stick, but you can’t break a stick in the middle of a bunch.

What are the best and worst things about attending Prospect National Conference?

The best things about conference are catching up with colleagues who you probably don’t see between conferences and having spirited debate on matters of importance to the delegates.

The worst thing about conference is listening to lots of delegates who all want to speak in support of a motion that no one is going to oppose, and they all say the same thing.

Tell us something about yourself that maybe even some of your colleagues wouldn’t know...

From 1966 my parents ran a pub in Halifax. In 1968, at the age of 13 I went with my father, at the request of the brewery, to re-open a pub in Dewsbury where there had just been a triple murder.

We were there three days after the crime took place, opened up two days later, and took over the pub until the 1990s.