UNISON Local Government Conference 19-20 June Brighton part 2

Published June 20, 2016 at 13:45

Blog Number 2

Monday morning saw the recommencement of the debate…

Emergency Motion Composite A …

…calling on Conference to censure the NJC over their behaviour during and after pay negotiations. In a nutshell, the NJC took a decision when it is argued it was the memberships responsibility to vote on a pay rise, rather than have the NJC produce it as a fait accompli

Perhaps the most controversial moment of the last few years. For balance, speakers for and against in equal parts

  • Walsall Brian from Hackney LG branch started today’s debate speaking for the motion. He said that Unison’s members think we are weak because the leadership shows no or poor leadership.
  • Ken Curran from Sheffield Metro said that the Composite doesn’t move us forward. Also that UNITE and GMB let Unison down by voting against strike action
  • Tracey Holmes from Knowsley, a General Domestic Assistant stated that her pay rise this year took her to the National Living Wage. She and her Branch had the passion for action
  • Two delegates from the NJC spoke against and for the motion. Emma Proctor against, Sean Fox for. Emma stated that the NJC was put in a difficult position, Sean spoke how 20 odd people on the NJC took a decision on behalf on 600-700k members – it was thought that the members had the right to take the decision themselves.
  • Saba from Bradford (against) stated that indications from her branch were that there was no stomach for a fight
  • Esther Ray from Hounslow (for) stated that Unison no longer feels like a Lay Member Union after the NJC’s decision. Berating the statements that there is no stomach for a fight, she went on to say that “A fight for One is a fight for all” – she made another good point as well. Unison organises better when there is a fight on our hands.
  • Two delegates from Derbyshire CC spoke against the motion. First Lesley said that their members were more interested in fighting for their jobs rather than fight for more pay. Angela then went on to say that losing pay through striking would mean members would have outstanding bills and that was more important to them.
  • Another Angela, this time from notloB (for). She stated that, after the NJC took their decision to take the decision making away from members, the members of notloB’s branch have lost faith in the Union and its internal decision making. It wasn’t about blaming the NJC, it was about holding them to be accountable
  • Karen from West Sussex (for) said that 82% of their members indicated they were prepared to take action. That wasn’t 82% of those who voted, it was 82% of their total membership. Their survey was done through Survey Monkey. Unison might do well to take their lead.
  • Lisa Dempster (for) made a good point – her members are considering In or Out – not from Europe, but from Unison. If Unison carry on taking decision making away from memebrs then membership of Knowsley will suffer
  • However, Cliff Jones from Kettering told Conference that most of their Stewards would resign if Strike Action was voted for

The right to reply brought the motion back to the fore however. The motion didn’t call for strike action, the motion was about how the members are supposed to decide on accepting a final pay offer, not the NJC. This is stated Unison policy and is a procedure that should be followed. The censure wasn’t about striking but about following procedures.

The President called for the vote and a show of hands indicated that the motion should be carried. However, too many branches voted against so, to be democratically sure, a card vote was called. The right decision our delegation thought, regardless of how we voted.

For the record, Blackburn with Darwen Unison LG Branch voted for the motion. It was only after all the arguments were heard that your delegates decided to vote for the censure.

Result as follows

For 266,000 (approx.)

Against 191,000 (approx.)

Motion carried

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