UNITE the Union has opened a new branch in the Borders more than 20 years after the closure of its former offices.

On Friday (February 25) members of the Edinburgh and Borders district branch of the trad union gathered at 119 High Street in Galashiels to mark the opening of the new office in the town.

And the chairman of the branch Rab Fraser said that the new site is the “start of something new”.

He said: “We are coming at a bad time just now.

“And people need help.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come and find out what’s happening.”

Mary Alexander, the regional deputy secretary for Unite added: “A lot of people are facing the cost of living crisis just now.

“People are really struggling.

“There’s a lot of poverty and inequality and there’s a lot of problems in the workplace and people in financial difficulties.

“What we’re trying to do is build that community power, and trade union power by having this office here.”

The Edinburgh and Borders branch has 4,4660 members who work across a variety of sectors, including retail, manufacturing, and as bus and lorry drivers.

On the importance of having a branch office in the town, Mr Fraser said: “It’s better to speak to someone in person than talking to somebody on the phone.

“You know who you’re talking to, you can understand them.

“Everything’s a bit easier when you’re standing face to face with somebody and talking.”

The office is also open for non-members of the union to come and ask for advice, however, the union hopes they will join in the future.

Mr Fraser said: “Hopefully non-members come in and become members, but they can come in and ask a question, look for information.

“Hopefully we can offer them a service and they’ll come and join the trade union from there.”

Ms Alexander added: “It’s important to have that visibility and presence in the community.

“We haven’t had an office here for some years so I think it will be regular opening hours and people can come and hopefully join all the campaigning activities as well as joining the union and finding out any advice and representation that they need.”

In the 1990s the branch office which was formerly on Overhaugh Street closed after the collapse of Viasystems in Selkirk.

Eck Barclay, a Unite member said: “The agreement was that if membership in districts fell below 5,000 they would lose their office.

“And when Viasystems closed in Selkirk we lost 1,000 members overnight.”