Thursday, January 04, 2007

UNISON NEC elections - a personal comment

In response to a comment on the last post below I thought I should post from my own personal computer to make a couple of things clear about the forthcoming elections to the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC).

First, I am going to seek nominations for re-election to the NEC, on which I have represented Greater London for three and a half years now. I shall be writing formally to London branches in the next couple of days.

Secondly, I think that this is an important opportunity for rank and file activists to try to get an NEC for our Union which will chart a more forthright and critical path in our relationship with the Government, the actual or ultimate employer of the great majority of our members.

Last year’s National Delegate Conference was the first since 1997 not to be addressed by a Government Minister. The past year has seen not only the refusal of the Government to extend to members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) the protection afforded to members of other public service pension schemes – in spite of the largest strike action in many years. It has also seen a crisis of cuts and privatisation afflicting the National Health Service.

The Government has declared an offensive against both of UNISON’s largest service groups and our response to date has been found wanting. I attended both the NHS Together and the LGPS lobbies of Parliament in November and on both occasions was impressed by the determination and commitment of our members – as I have been when addressing meetings of UNISON members around London in the past year.

However, neither lobby was as large or impressive as the Public Services Not Private Profit lobby in the summer – and the refusal of some of our UNISON leadership to associate our Union with this joint union campaign, because of what I believe to be foolish political sectarianism, is a hallmark of the weakness of our approach to the unavoidable confrontations with this Government which lie ahead.

Indeed, rather than unite to prepare for these coming battles I am afraid that some officials appear to want to reprise damaging and unnecessary internal battles. We need a democratic union controlled by lay members – not a Union in which paid officials can override our democracy.

When posting from a computer which is not UNISON property I shall report on developments in these elections as they come to my attention. The NEC has overall responsibility for the running of the Union – we need a majority prepared to ask questions and take that responsibility.

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