Sunday, October 08, 2006

Support Kirklees branch call for a special conference on pensions

The dispute over the Local Government Pension Scheme needs to step up a gear following the disappointing (if hardly unexpected) outcome of UNISON’s application for a judicial review.

As I blogged here earlier, UNISON’s National Executive Council has refused to endorse a call from our Local Government Service Group Executive for a Special Conference to discuss the dispute. This request has instead been referred to the Service Group Liaison Committee of the NEC.

The Kirklees branch (who recently got an honourable mention for their solidarity with the NHS Logistics strikers) have taken the initiative to submit the following motion to the Head of Local Government at UNISON HQ;

"We request a Special Local Government Group meeting to discuss the current situation in the Local Government Pension Scheme dispute."

The Regional Local Government Committees in both Yorkshire and Humberside and London have endorsed this proposal and are urging branches in their Regions to get on board. Many other branches have also supported this proposal.

Branches in the local government service group who wish to support this initiative have until 13 November to agree the same motion and send it in to national office (Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government, UNISON, 1 Mabledon Place, LONDON WC1H 9AJ). If branches representing more than 25% of the membership of the local government service group have done this by the deadline, the Rules require that a special conference be convened.

Whether or not that target is reached it is important to keep up the pressure for democratic control of this important dispute. Branches should also lobby members of the National Executive Council to put pressure directly on the Service Group Liaison Committee to agree to permit the Local Government Service Group to have the special conference it has voted for.

We certainly need to have a Conference prior to any ballot of members on a new pension scheme – if, as seems more likely, nothing emerges in the next few weeks that is worth balloting on, a Conference could still be a useful element in the campaign of industrial action we need to be organising.

We have to discuss now what form our industrial action should take. Single days of strike action don’t look like they’ll do it – perhaps we need to aim higher – starting with two consecutive days of strike action and rapidly escalating to a longer strike?

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