Thursday, October 04, 2007

Keep the NHS working - demonstrate on 3 November

The NEC received a report of campaigning work in relation to the National Health Service, including preparations for the demonstration on 3 November. In this regard I was interested to be forwarded a report by an NEC colleague who sits on the Health Service Group Executive. In this report the Health SGE had been told that there was little support for the demonstration in Greater London (which is contrary to the policy agreed almost unanimously at the last Regional Council Annual General Meeting).

There was some debate about what might happen to the demonstration in the event of a General Election being called. The Chair of the Policy Committee made clear that at present it was “full steam ahead” for the demonstration and that all branches should be organising to attend on Saturday 3 November. This is a citizenship issue and it is important that it is not left to our members in health to defend the health service (after all, all of us need the NHS from time to time!)

Because of legal limits on “third party” expenditure during an election period, there would be problems for UNISON if an election was called to take place shortly after 3 November. The President, Norma Stephenson, made clear that she expected that, should this arise, the Union would look to find ways in which the demonstration could continue to go ahead – since many branches had already booked transport and would be likely to turn up anyway!

Since funding for the demonstration is coming from the General Political Fund Committee, which under Rule is autonomous from the NEC as a whole, any branches who may wish to express a view about the importance of this demonstration going ahead may wish to know the membership of that Committee, which is as follows;

James Anthony

Sarah Bradfield

Jane Carolan

Graeme Horn

Maureen Le Marinel

Annette Mansell-Green – Co-Chair

Helen Rose

Alison Shepherd

Sian Stockham

Linda Sweet

Chris Tansley – Co-Chair

Steve Warwick.

I supported the view that the demonstration should go ahead. If the expenditure on the demonstration had to count against money UNISON could spend during the General Election well, we would just have to cut back on support elsewhere!

The clear message from our President was to step up preparations for a really massive demonstration on 3 November.

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