Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday afternoon at UNISON Conference

I wrote this yesterday afternoon but couldn’t get online to post it…

It’s the Friday afternoon of Conference, and a hall full (well quite full) of tired delegates have less than an hour and a half in total to debate reprioritised motions. The top of the reprioritisation ballot was Motion 21 from Kensington and Chelsea dealing with the employers’ management of sickness absence.

This shows our Conference delegates demonstrating how the priorities of the rank and file are informed by our everyday experience in the branches – dealing with sickness cases is a massive part of the workload of our shop stewards and – thanks to Kensington and Chelsea branch, Conference has now agreed to instruct the National Executive Council to support branches and provide a national lead to campaign against reactionary sickness management policies.

The second priority is Motion 19 on violence against public service workers, moved by the Yorkshire and Humberside Region. It is essential that UNISON does all we can to protect all our members from violent and abusive behaviour. As I write, Roger Bannister, whom I intend later this afternoon to support to be Vice President of our Union, is speaking on behalf of the NEC. I shall also support Jessie Russel for Vice President. The only candidate for President is Norma Stephenson, and the other candidates for Vice President, who can expect to receive a majority of the votes, are Sue Highton and Gerry Gallagher.

With an hour left to go I should think that we are unlikely to get as far as the debate on Trident, which is a great shame (although of course UNISON has clear policy of opposition to Trident replacement anyway). I’ll blog tomorrow about the final debates of Conference and about the first meeting of the new National Executive Council.

For now I shall sign off…

(Update after the close of Conference – I was unduly pessimistic and we did reach the debate on Trident. As on so many questions we have adopted excellent progressive policy – if only we would fight for it in the Labour Party…
I wonder which member of the Labour Party NEC could help us with that?)

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