ELECTED OFFICIALS – as a democratic independent trade union, all Officials are elected from the membership.
David Pickles, President
Telephone Contact: 07836 295287
Employed for 13 years by WHSmith Retail in a variety of roles before being elected President in 1998. In this full time role, subject to re-election every five years, David chairs all appropriate Union meetings and heads all Committees when meeting with employers. David is also highly experienced and active in representing individuals in internal grievance and disciplinary hearings, and is Senior Trustee, looking after the Union’s financial affairs. Prior to being elected President, David had been active in all other voluntary RBA roles for all of his WHS career.
Father of three; active in his local community (Church and as a School Governor) before moving to Swindon in 1998. Knows what it is like at the sharp end of retailing.
Star sign, Scorpio – enough said!
Likes and Dislikes
Dislikes injustice and abuse, enjoys “customer facing” ( – meeting and advising members) and problem solving. Everton supporter (someone has to be!). Dislikes having too little time to be with his family and friends.
OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS – all other Officials are elected from the working membership. and are the “volunteer force” without whom we simply could not function.
Andy Sweatman, Vice President
I started working for WHSmith in February 1972. I have been in a Store Manager role for over 40 years in numerous locations across High Street and Travel. I am currently the Store Manager in Romford, Essex where I have been for the past 5 years.
I joined the RBA in March 1996 as I realised that unions can make a difference within the working relationship between employee and employer. I became a Manager Delegate in January 2004 to take a more proactive role for our members by supporting their views when meeting with WHSmith.
Too many to list, but it is fair to say I have got the T-Shirt for almost every situation life throws at you.
Supporting people if able to;
Solving work related issues to a satisfactory conclusion;
Talking and listening to people;
Social Media; and
Annie Partington, Staff Delegate
A member of staff at WHSmith’s Blackburn store, so Annie knows the ups and downs of life in retail. Annie says:
“I really enjoy my RBA work and strive for fairness for all, which can be difficult, but I do enjoy a challenge. I am always available for advice or assistance and am gradually getting out to visit all stores on my area so look forward to meeting you all and hopefully recruiting more of you into our happy and vital organisation”
Allan Roberts, Manager Delegate & Trustee
Allan is the store manager of WHSmith’s Harpenden store, with a great deal of experience in retail, and also within the RBA. Allan is also a Trustee of the Union, who, along with Norma Sloan and Sylvia Berrill, assists the President in careful management of the Union’s income and expenditure.
Andy Locke, Supervisor Delegate
Andy is a Supervisor at WHSmith’s Gloucester store, and one of four Delegates specifically elected to represent store supervisors with the High St Division.
Alex Wright, Staff Delegate
I work at WHSmith on books in the Castlepoint branch. I initially joined the RBA because I felt I wanted someone on my side, someone I could turn to if I had any problems at work. Since then, they have been there for me at many crunch times in my career. I volunteered as a Branch Rep at an area meeting, as I felt I wanted to give something back if I could. Since then I decided to become a District Delegate, and subsequently Executive Councillor, and have taken part in meetings and negotiations with the company covering pay and general terms & conditions. I have really enjoyed getting out on store visits and meeting other members and colleagues, lending an ear, offering advice and sharing common experiences with them.
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my daughter. I’m also a big reader and feel lost without a book on the go-which comes in useful in store! I’m a huge music fan too– everything from Mozart to 80s goth and Megadeth! I love live music. I like getting out and walking too. In recent years, I have gained an NVQ 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Retail.
Kathy Embleton, Team Leader Delegate
Kathy works in WHS Travel Division in the North West and has been a Delegate and Executive Council member for many years.
OFFICERS OF THE RBA – Officers are the employees of the union with particular functions and responsibilities in order to support and advise all Officials and members.
Paul Lee, National Officer
Telephone contact: 07770 364760
Became an Officer of the RBA in 1988 after graduating in Business Studies and having previously worked for many years in the Print Industry. Represents individual members in internal grievance and disciplinary processes and to all types of Tribunal. Advises and assists members and Officials in all aspects of employment law, employment relations and health & safety, on an individual basis, to Committees, and in meetings with employers. Paul has never worked in Retail – wouldn’t last five minutes past the first stroppy customer, he thinks.
Star Sign – typical Leo. Happily married; interested in computers and gadgets. Member of Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Not much time for anything else!
Likes and Dislikes
Likes a challenge, dislikes losing; likes being “mature”, dislikes being 65. Manchester United (armchair) supporter. Loves good food (it shows!)
AT CENTRAL OFFICE
Sarah Thomas, Central Office Manager
Telephone contact: for office admin enquiries –
Email: for office admin enquiries – email@example.com
Joined the RBA in 1983 as a Receptionist and has been promoted through various roles, becoming Office Manager in 1995. Oversees and manages all office functions, arranges meetings and conferences, and ensures that everyone does what they are supposed to do!
Happily married and a devoted mother of James, star sign libra.
Likes and Dislikes
Netball player (in the days that she had time!); Liverpool fanatic (the club rather than the city); likes order, dislikes chaos (hence still in the office); enjoys walking and gardening.