Sunday, June 24, 2007

First personal report to London UNISON branches from the new NEC

What follows is my first personal report from the 2007/09 NEC which I have just circulated to London UNISON branches.

First of all I would like to thank all those UNISON branches who nominated me to continue to serve on our National Executive Council and all those UNISON members who voted for me. I shall continue to report back from meetings of the NEC and if anyone wants to keep up to date with my reports they can do so by visiting my blog at any time. (A blog is just a personal website that is easy to update for anyone who doesn’t know).

Like many other UNISON activists I have spent the last week at UNISON Conference. I don’t intend to circulate a full report of the Conference because that is the job of your branch delegates – but I will draw attention to one or two really important issues which branches need to be thinking about.

The main issue of the week was, without doubt, public sector pay – in relation to which we have agreed to seek a united front with other public service unions in order to take on the Government.

In relation to local government pay there is now a formal consultation over pay in which members are recommended to reject the employers offer of 2% (or possibly 2.5%) since both are crap (that’s a technical term used by union negotiators to describe pay offers falling a long way short of the rate of inflation so I’m not being rude…) Further details of the pay consultation process are available online here and the order form for the leaflet is available here. It is always worth browsing the online catalogue to see what else is available.

In the health service we are also gearing up for a ballot over pay. We have to hope for united action between health and local government and it was made pretty clear to me at Conference that members in health don’t want 2.5% (which is a pay cut in real terms) even if it is paid all at once. (Because 2.5% is less than this…)

While persuading our members to be prepared to take strike action for fair pay, we also need to be mobilising now for two important events backed by UNISON.

The first is the lobby of parliament on local government funding on 10 July, to which the new NEC of our Union have agreed to go. Links to all the guidance documents for this lobby are on the local government section of the UNISON website. Although called primarily around the need for funding for equal pay and single status this is a lobby about local government funding and is therefore deeply relevant to our pay campaign in local government – it is also relevant to members across all service groups that local government should be adequately funded and I hope that branches in other service groups will consider supporting the lobby, just as we tried to get attendance from other service groups for the NHS lobby last year.

The second event coming up is the National Demonstration in defence of the National Health Service, called for by this year’s UNISON Health Conference. This is now due to take place on 13 October. Again, although a circular has gone out first of all to health branches this is not just an issue for health workers, and all UNISON branches should be making arrangements to attend.

I therefore hope to see you (at least) on 10 July and 13 October. If in the mean time you would like a report from an NEC member to a Branch or Branch Committee meeting that contact me at j.rogers@unison.co.uk or on 07957505571 (and give me a bit of notice please!)

Finally, the NEC met for the first time on 22 July and elected Norma Stephenson as President and Sue Highton and Gerry Gallagher as Vice Presidents. I voted for Jessie Russel and Roger Bannister for Vice President and would be happy to explain my reasons to any London UNISON branch or member.

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