Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Protest at the Saudi state visit

Having not been in London today I have missed out on various things. Just now I am missing the protest at the Saudi embassy (covered extensively elsewhere). If I could I would be there since our Prime Minister has just met with the Saudi king and not discussed human rights!

A sad day for internationalism and for the Labour Party. More power to the elbows of those protesting against our Government's treatment of this despot.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Support the strike against victimisation!

This story is nicked entirely from the London Region UNISON website. If we can’t have a strike over pay this year, let’s mobilise all our resources to defend our own!

“Members in Newham have voted for strike action following the suspension of activist and Branch Chair, Michael Gavan.
A day of strike action has been agreed for 31st October, which is the day before Michael’s disciplinary hearing. This allows members the opportunity to show their strength of feeling in order to change the Councils mind about pursuing their unwarranted disciplinary process.
There will be a lunch time rally from: 11:30am At St Johns Church, Stratford (in the middle of the Broadway) Nearest tube – Stratford on the central line.
All welcome to come along in support of Michael and the branch.
Link to map
Michael has been accused by the council of "not acting in the best interests of the council" and organising an "unauthorised" meeting against possible privatisation of services. UNISON has denied the allegations amount to gross misconduct, rather it says they are a direct attack on the union, aimed at gagging an effective negotiator.
"It is no coincidence that the Michael has been suspended shortly after the union started a campaign against the privatisation of the refuse and cleaning service," said branch secretary Irene Stacey.Messages of support can be emailed to the branch at newham-unison@btconnect.com and messages of condemnation sent to Newham mayor Robin Wales at Robin.wales@newham.gov.uk

I cannot be there on Wednesday as I will not be in London, but I hope as many UNISON activists as possible will show their support. If an employer can establish the principle that a union representative can be dismissed for (allegedly!) failing to breach the duty of confidentiality owed to a union member that would be the death knell of independent trade unionism in the workplace.

Good luck to all the sisters and brothers in Newham UNISON!

Local Government Pay - no fight this year...

Although my initial reaction to the news that we had a 51% “YES” vote on a 24% turnout in the national local government strike ballot was that we should press ahead with strike action because we had won the ballot, I can also, on reflection, understand why the National Joint Council (NJC) Committee voted by 24 votes to 3 not to proceed with strike action but instead to accept the employers’ offer.

Given the close result it might well have been difficult to sustain the strike action which would have been necessary to win and – although I suspect that had I been voting at the meeting this afternoon I would have been with the minority in believing that this could still have been done, the real problem is not with the vote at the NJC Committee but with the reasons underlying the close vote in the ballot.

There will be some who will see in the divided views of the membership some justification for their own initial pessimism – however, I think that what has been tested and found wanting in this year’s pay round thus far is an approach to leadership in the trade union movement which believes that the purpose of leadership is to hold a mirror to the members and reflect back their views and feelings, in this case indecision and a lack of confidence.

Leadership ought however to consist in developing, on the basis of the interests and opinions of the membership a strategy to advance those interests which the leadership should then take to the membership in order to campaign for their support. This proactive approach to raising public sector pay was implicit in the policies endorsed at UNISON Conference and at the Trades Union Congress.

This approach has not been put into practice this year. The alternative approach has been exemplified by the decisions of, for example, UNISON’s Health Service Group Executive and of the other local government unions – GMB and UNITE(TGWU) not to recommend rejection of below inflation pay increases, leading to acceptance of these offers by the members. These decisions in themselves can be – and have been – justified on the basis of a belief that the members are not up for the fight that would have been necessary to win.

If that is so, and the UNISON local government ballot result suggests that it may be at least partly true, then the roots of this problem can be traced to the collective failure of the trade union leadership to develop and campaign for an effective strategy to reverse the decline in the living standards of public service workers. I do not exclude myself from this criticism – and I do think we now face a serious challenge to try to construct in reality and from below the unity of purpose which was expressed rhetorically and from above at the TUC.

The alternative is a continuing squeeze on the living standards of public sector trade unionists – and a continuation of the flaccid failure to offer effective leadership. The 2008 pay campaign starts now, and it does not start from a very good place I am afraid.

Update on Monday evening – here is the official version; “Local government workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have slammed this year’s below-inflation annual pay award, but stopped short of outright industrial action at this stage, putting employers and the government in the ‘last chance saloon’ over pay.”

If they don’t come up with a better offer next year we will mobilise some really really scary clich├ęs – never mind the “last chance saloon”!

Seriously I am pleased that we are committing ourselves in public to start a campaign for 2008 based on securing fair pay and conditions improvements and defeating plans to attack national conditions and negotiating machinery. The question is, what are we actually going to do though?

To strike or not to strike?

A joint meeting of UNISON's Local Government Service Group Executive and National Joint Council Committee is taking place this afternoon to decide what to do in the light of the result of our strike ballot.

As I understand it the turn out was, in the light of the postal dispute, respectable, and the result is a "YES" but a fairly narrow "YES". A difficult decision confronts the meeting this afternoon, but my view - and the view of the activists I have been talking to in our branch office - is that a "YES" vote should lead to strike action.

Our arguments for action are good - and could now be presented far more effectively than they were during the ballot campaign.

Update at 4.15pm. The National Joint Council Committee have voted decisively not to proceed with strike action and to accept the employers' offer. A disappointing outcome about which I will post more considered comment later.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hands off Iran!

I am no fan of the Iranian regime. Their treatment of trade unionists is appalling – witness the case of Mansour Osanloo, or the assassination attempt on Majid Hamidi.

However, the cause of Iranian trade unionists will not be assisted by U.S. imperialist warmongering – the enormous flaw in the liberal/progressive case for intervention is that the US (and this goes just as much for the UK) never intervene in the interests of progressive politics or humans rights but only in the interests (as their rulers perceive them) of the US (or the UK).

The hypocritical attacks upon the Iranians from the US and UK Governments, who are happy to do business with the appallingly reactionary and repressive Saudi regime, have nothing whatsoever to do with supporting the Iranian people. If there is a progressive case for sanctions against Iran there is a better case for sanctions against Saudi Arabia, but it isn’t being made by our Governments.

(And for those of us who oppose the Saudi regime there is something we can do!)

So, as well as showing solidarity with Iranian workers under attack by their reactionary Government, trade unionists in the UK need to prepare to campaign against an attack upon Iran. It is a vital role of our movement to stand against war, and we have the opportunity to stop the UK Government supporting a US attack on Iran.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Postal workers show how to deliver higher pay?

The Postal Executive and full Executive of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are recommending a deal to their members in their dispute with Royal Mail.

I know that respected activists have expressed various reservations about the proposed deal. Postal workers will have to decide what to do about the recommendation.

As a local government worker what stands out to me however is that the workers stand to get 5.4% on their pay from this month.

We, on the other hand, have been offered 2.475% (with 3.4% to the very lowest paid).

GMB members in local government have voted to accept this poor deal, and members of most health unions, including UNISON, voted to accept even less.

What is the difference between the sectors which have had below inflation pay rises and the postal workers?

Two words.

Strike action.

It works.

If you are a UNISON member in local government reading this then make sure you return your strike ballot by Friday and remember to vote “YES”.

Update on 23 October - with thanks to a better informed comrade who suggests that the tone of this post thus far is unreasonably upbeat. I note from one comment on this post already that it is the "ultra left" who may characterise the deal as a "sell out".

Well I have often been accused of being "ultra left" - but I prefer to consider whether a deal has sold the members short rather than sold them out. In this case what I have failed to take adequately into account above is that the deal is over two years, making 5.4% much less impressive. Although there is an additional - conditional - 1.5% due on 1 April, I understand that there is an argument that that is money that was due anyway.

If any readers can point me in the direction of a blog or website where postal workers are debating the pros and cons of the deal I shall post a link.

I still believe that strike action works, but obviously the extent to which it delivers for our members is dependent in part upon the strategy and tactics adopted by the leadership of each dispute.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Strikes, ballots and the law

Good luck to the CWU in their continuing dispute with the Royal Mail – whatever decision their postal Executive arrives at they at least appear to be giving serious consideration to whether or not to accept the deal which has been negotiated.

However, we still have a problem about the delivery of ballot papers to UNISON local government members!

This episode is a painful reminder that “New” Labour has failed to remove the legal shackles placed on the trade unions by the Tories. I understand that a sensible proposal that branches in those areas worst affected by the postal strike ought to have been able to collect members’ ballot papers for bulk return to the scrutineer has not found favour with the lawyers.

It is worth reminding ourselves just how outrageous these legal restrictions upon trade unions are.

It is therefore particularly timely that today is the day of the rally for the Trade Union Freedom Bill! I wish I could be there (but I can’t) – if you can get to the House of Commons from 4pm this afternoon.

Oh, and when you consider which MP is promoting this pro-trade union legislation, you can’t help feeling that it would have been nice if we had had a choice of Leader for our Party, the way other people do…

Monday, October 15, 2007

Carry on blogging!

I’ve been called a blogger.

Mind you, I’ve been called worse (usually anonymously…!)

But these days I am not the only blogger on the UNISON NEC (although there are those who say that I never was but that other bloggers were just in the closet – and no, I am not posting a link to the anonymous blog to which I refer, because it was just never funny or intelligent enough to warrant that respect…)

Now though you don’t have to listen only to my ramblings if you want more than just the official version of what is going on on the UNISON NEC, you can hear from John, Emma and Kate – not to mention James and Angela.

That’s almost 10% of the UNISON NEC blogging now.

Come on the rest of you – what do you think those laptops and Blackberries are for???

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who're SUE?

I blogged a little while ago about the dispute between UNISON and its main staff trade union (UNITE) over some proposed staffing changes.

The UNITE members protesting outside UNISON Regional Office were joined briefly by one or two members of another trade union – SUE (the Society of Union Employees).

But who’re SUE?

A cursory glance at the internet reveals – according to the Certification Officer website – that they have 288 members employed by UNISON, but are not affiliated to the TUC (and have no political fund).

Google only reveals that SUE once spoke up for a senior official facing allegations of bullying.

Now I would be the first to accept that employees of a trade union are hardly in an identical position to all other workers, and that there are difficulties and contradictions in unionising the employees of a trade union.

But can someone explain to me how union officials in a TUC affiliated trade union can come to the conclusion that their interests will be best served by membership of a union which is apolitical and outside the TUC?

And why doesn’t the organisation have a presence on the internet?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The anonymous opponents of migration in our movement...

There are those in our trade union movement who worry about the influence of far left organisations in our trade unions. I often get stick for being prepared to work alongside comrades who are members of outfits such as the Socialist Workers Party or the Socialist Party.

I am not troubled by this.

I prefer to work with good trade unionists regardless of political affiliation, whether they are in the Labour Party, the Communist Party, or no party at all. I also believe it is important to be open about political affiliations.

But there are other political parties in our movement which operate much less openly – one such is the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) which produce a journal called “Workers” in which all the contributions are anonymous (!) presumably because they are written by a small number of people holding well paid jobs as officials on our movement.

Workers is, oddly enough, anti-immigration. Their argument is pretty simple, migration increases the supply of labour and that depresses the price of labour. GCSE level economics is more advanced than much of what passes for discussion in our movement, but this a pretty limited argument which, characteristically for “Workers”, leads nowhere in terms of any practical guide to action for trade unionists. Do the comrades think we should be lining up with the anti-immigration brigade? What good would that do?

Mass migration is not going to stop. Capital flows ever more freely around the world (and that is a flow which we ought to be arguing for controls over). We can’t get back to a politics based upon the interests of “our” working class in “our” country, as distinct from the interests of our class the world over. We need to recognise that employers will try to depress wages and that their state will help them to do so – we need to fight as trade unionists to organise workers into trade unions, to push up wages – and to campaign for policies (such as an increase in the minimum wage and an amnesty for so-called “illegal” migrants) which will support workers’ interests.

Migrant workers are here now and the job of the trade unions is to organise workers regardless of nationality. That’s why UNISON is right to set out to organise migrant workers and to support Strangers into Citizens – perhaps the authors of Workers, including those in our own Union, would like to emerge from their anonymity and have a real debate?

There certainly is a danger in the movement adopting progressive policies on migration without winning support for them at a rank and file level. We need to take on and defeat the shallow and unimpressive arguments of the anti-immigrant brigade, to the left as much as to the right.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Local disputes show the need for national action

Bad news in Birmingham where the local authority – England’s largest – is seeking to impose a pay and grading deal which could see pay cuts of up to £10,000 a year for 12% of the workforce. The challenge of introducing equal pay in local government without the funding required to do so in a fair and reasonable way is only going to provoke more disputes.

Ironically this happens a year to the day since the Local Government Employers called upon their members to reach agreements on equal pay with the unions. And of course, it is ten years since we agreed the Single Status deal…

This approach of imposition heralds the future of employee relations in local government if the employers get their way and reduce national bargaining to a completely hollow shell. We are at our strongest when we can use the unity that comes from being part of a national union – that’s why the most important task for UNISON activists in local government is to mobilise for a yes vote in the national strike ballot.

If we can strengthen our national organisation we can get better settlements of our local disputes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not the Regional Committee report...

I haven’t yet had a chance to blog here a full report from Tuesday’s meeting of the Greater London UNISON Regional Committee (negotiations about the film rights are still underway…)

I only have few moments to blog right now but before I move next business for the time being…

I will take this opportunity to mention that the Regional Committee gave its wholehearted support to the Fremantle dispute and to the demonstration being organised for Saturday 10 November.

The Committee also heard that Regional officials had helpfully provided some guidance on the administration of hardship payments to the Barnet branch. This guidance took the form of a report received by the National Executive Council (NEC) Finance and Resource Management (FRM) Committee in 2004.

I have been in touch with the Chair of that Committee to suggest that it would be a good idea to look at updating and reissuing this guidance as national industrial action over pay is in prospect. If any UNISON branches want an electronic copy of the 2004 report please get in touch.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Normal trade unionism can be resumed?

Now that we don’t have to have one of these – can we concentrate on this and this instead please?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Newham Council attacks UNISON

I was shocked to hear last night that Newham’s off-the-wall Labour Council (which clearly demonstrates all the reasons why we were right as a UNISON to oppose elected Mayors) is pressing ahead with a disciplinary hearing in the case of Michael Gavan, about which I have blogged before. The hearing could be as little as a fortnight away.

Michael is the widely respected Branch Chair of Newham UNISON and his work over a number of years has been central to sustaining trade union organisation with a difficult and temperamental employer. UNISON members in Newham are rightly pressing ahead with a ballot for strike action.

Michael is quite clearly being victimised for his trade union work and while UNISON is balloting members for strike action we also need to maximise political pressure on Newham at the same time.

Those of us who are Labour Party members have a particular obligation to express our disgust to our Party colleagues in Newham. (I would normally say comrades, but no comrade of mine victimises a trade unionist for his union work!)

Those of you on Facebook please join the Defend Michael Gavan group which has just been set up – and get all your Facebook friends to do the same. Meanwhile in the world beyond cyberspace send messages of support to Newham UNISON and copy them to UNISON Regional Office at Congress House, Great Russell Street. (I have removed a hypertext link to the email address of the Regional Secretary at UNISON's request).

Whether or not there is a General Election in the next few weeks there will be one in the next few months. The Labour Party will expect finance and material support from UNISON – and (in my opinion, given that a Tory Government would be even worse) we ought probably to provide some. However, if a flagship Labour Council led by a high profile elected Mayor is set on destroying the career and livelihood of a hard working activist then, at least in Newham, no UNISON support should go to the Party.

Michael has strong support in the Region – it is up to the Regional Labour Link Committee to rise to the challenge of putting our Union first. I shall be asking, as an NEC member, that our Union pulls out all the stops to defend Michael.

Update on Monday - It’s good to see UNISON reporting on the fight against the victimisation of Michael Gavan of the Newham branch on our website. Don’t forget to join the Facebook group in Michael’s support!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Any Other Business at the UNISON NEC

Towards the end of yesterday's NEC meeting a number of other matters were dealt with including the following;

The NEC has rearranged its meeting dates in order to reduce expenditure and also to reduce the amount of travelling done by NEC members (as part of our “Green” policy to reduce our carbon footprint) – I did not support this because I felt that proposals to reduce by one the number of NEC meetings in the year further reduced lay oversight of our Union;

The NEC received an update on the project to build a new Head Office building opposite Mabledon Place;

The Chair of the Staffing Committee reported on plans to reorganise our staff to promote the organising agenda, this has led to a dispute with one of the staff trade unions over the question of consultation and an indicative ballot is currently taking place but negotiations are continuing;

The NEC members for the South East Region pointed out that none of them had ever been asked to serve on an internal disciplinary panel and were advised that they ought to have expressed an interest (upon hearing this I promptly expressed an interest myself).

Finally, on a lighter note, we were all given UNISON NEC badges - and over lunch myself and some comrades began to turn our minds to the vexed question of when one might wear such a badge and if it is possible to wear the badge in a "personal capacity".

An informal working group is to be established to work on some guidelines on the wearing of badges and comments from UNISON members will be very welcome...

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.

Review of UNISON Conference 2007

Yesterday's meeting of the UNISON NEC considered the arrangements for next year's Annual Conference.

The NEC agreed to recommend to the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) the following points for consideration in their review of Conference;
Organising the agenda around “themed” debates was welcome and should continue;
The facility to organise briefings in Conference time, as had been done on equal pay this year, should continue;
Conference should close at 4pm on Friday.

I objected to the last two recommendations as I believe they tend to reduce the amount of time taken up by policy discussion and decision making at the sovereign body of our trade union. I was therefore part of the minority who opposed these recommendations.

Branches can contact their Region to ensure their views are fed into the SOC review of Conference - the price of democracy is of course eternal vigilance...

General Secretary's report to UNISON NEC

As always, the General Secretary gave a wide ranging report to yesterday's meeting of the UNISON NEC in order to cover items not already on the agenda. These included the following;
UNISON will be supporting Saturday’s demonstration in solidarity with the people of Burma, meeting at Millbank at 11am on Saturday 6 October;
Dave Prentis congratulated the Greater London Region on organising the “Slavery, Yesterday, Today but not Tomorrow” event on 17 September, which he had attended;
UNISON have established a telephone hotline to combat racism in the National Health Service;
The Police Community Support Officers in the North West unjustly criticised in the media over the tragic drowning of a child were UNISON members and UNISON was making complaints to the BBC and the Press Complaints Commission about the way they had been treated;
Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, had not won the election to be General Secretary of the Public Services International (PSI) and there were significant concerns about the way the election had been run, which UNISON would be considering;
In reporting from the TUC, the General Secretary mentioned the Fremantle dispute and urged support for the demonstration on Saturday 10 November – at which he said he would try to be in attendance;
It was reported that UNISON had supported the constitutional changes at Labour Party Conference on the basis that these could be reversed in two years time. This had been the position of all the trade unions organised through TULO (the Trade Union Labour Organisation). There was some unexplained amusement when I asked how UNISON actually voted on this at the Conference (perhaps one of our Conference delegates in the Region will be able to explain that!)

Latest on the LGPS

At yesterday’s meeting of the UNISON NEC we received a report of developments in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

The NEC was advised that consultation on extending transitional protection of the “Rule of 85” to remove the “tapering” for those current scheme members who will be 60 by 2020 had now closed and the outcome was awaited. A number of branches and employer had supported UNISON’s position whilst a large number of employers had not.

In spite of an agreement between the trade unions and the employers not to have formal “cost sharing” arrangements, the Government have written this into the new LGPS Regulations and discussions have therefore begun. The Government want a cap upon employers’ contributions so that if life expectancy increases there would have to be further increases in employees’ pension contributions in future. We were told that the unions are resisting this.

Discussions are also continuing about the “third tier” of ill health retirement in the new scheme.

NEC debates public sector pay

The major discussion on public sector pay at yesterday's meeting of the UNISON NEC was of course about the local government pay dispute. We considered the unfortunate news that both GMB and TGWU-UNITE members had voted to accept the below-inflation pay increase. However, the point was made that PCS members in the civil service would be likely to take action alongside UNISON local government members.

One piece of good news relates to an administrative difficulty with the strike ballot which largely affects Greater London. A significant number of employers were not notified of the national strike ballot and our members with those employers are not included in the main ballot. However, it has now been agreed to run a secondary ballot for all the omitted employers with the same end date as the main ballot so that, subject to a “YES” vote in both ballots, all members can take action together.

I welcomed this news and was also one of those stressing the possibilities of joint action with PCS. I also expressed disappointment about the A5 strike leaflet, which could have been far better worded. We were assured that the letter from the General Secretary which will accompany the ballot paper is better. Other materials, including presentations and speakers notes are to be issued and branches need to organise meetings and bulletins to members now in order to maximise the turnout and the “YES” vote.

Some colleagues, including fellow London NEC members said that members were not enthusiastic about strike action. However, Dave Prentis, General Secretary said that UNISON had never had a national ballot go against a national recommendation since he had been General Secretary and that, whilst it would be difficult to win the ballot and the dispute, this was what we had to be committed to doing. He said that during the ballot period all officers and lay activists should be cancelling other meetings and getting out there to get the vote out. His encouragement is now online.

John Jones, NEC member representing Water and Environment, made a particular point of expressing the concerns of members in the Environment Agency that more had not been done to criticise the very poor pay offer made to them (at the same time as their Chief Executive was being rewarded with a fat bonus).

Equal Pay debate at the UNISON NEC

As has been the case for some time the longest debate of the day at yesterday’s meeting of the UNISON NEC was on Equal Pay. The NEC received a confidential and legally privileged report covering a wide range of issues. In the light of continuing litigation against UNISON I cannot provide a fuller report here – but branches can expect to receive continuing guidance on this issue (and in the local government group branches in Greater London were of course invited to a briefing on Monday 1 October). Check the website regularly!

On the separate but related issue of finding resources to fund litigation around Equal Pay we were advised that there has been consultation with Regional Convenors and that a working group was to be established, following which it was likely that there would be presentations to Regional Committees (avid readers of this blog may recollect that this has been on the cards now for the best part of a year but that it has not yet happened).

UNISON NEC debates recruitment

As always the NEC meeting yesterday began with a report on recruitment.

It was reported to the meeting that poor recruitment earlier in the year means that we face losing members for the first time. The problem is, as always, particularly acute in Greater London as we have the highest turnover of members. There are three elements to how the Union will try to turn this around;
An emergency package of measures has been put in place for each Region to focus on a small number of large branches with low membership density (and therefore the greatest potential for recruitment);
There is to be a continuing focus on encouraging branches to adopt an organising approach, based upon Branch Development Plans;
There will be a focus upon recruitment around the local government pay dispute.

The evidence of the past is that significant boosts to recruitment occur primarily around major disputes – although the NEC was told that it was estimated that “Challenge X” had led to the recruitment of several thousand members who would not otherwise have been recruited and that such efforts were therefore worthwhile. (It is incredibly difficult to assess the accuracy of such claims, as understanding trends in trade union membership is more an art than a science).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Loneliness of the long distance NEC meeting...

Today's meeting of the UNISON NEC lasted about twice as long as meetings have been recently - so that's my excuse for not having written up my notes and posted them here yet ;p

Tomorrow morning seems like a good time right now!

UNISON NEC (no live blogging!)

This morning there's a meeting of UNISON's National Executive Council - I'll blog a report here after the event but won't be live blogging as the President has asked me not to.

No doubt we will be discussing the local government pay dispute (I expect some searching questions about fairly unimpressive strike leaflets - and of course mention will be made of the disappointing results of the TGWU-UNITE and GMB consultative ballots (the GMB result is a fairly massive vote to accept a real terms pay cut).

There will also be discussion about the forthcoming demonstration in defence (or is it celebration) of the National Health Service set for 3 November. I understand from an NEC comrade on the Policy Committee that the question "what will we do if there is a General Election on 8 November" is a questions which it is not permissible to ask!

Check back here later in the day and I'll have posted a report.