Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Health, Conference

Best wishes to everyone gathering for UNISON Health Conference in Manchester. I would love to be there with you but the clash with the school holidays this year makes it particularly difficult.

The most important question for debate has to be the pay offer recently made to health workers. A three year pay deal which starts out below the rate of price inflation and looks set to stay there.

I hope I make it to next year's Health Conference, where I hope delegates will be looking back at how UNISON led a fight to break the Government's pay policy in 2008 and won our members an above inflation pay increase.

Don't you find that being on holiday puts you in a good and optmistic mood? I do.

Update on Sunday evening – here is where I’ll be going to look for updates on discussions about pay at Health Conference.

Update on Monday morning. Nick has posted a report from yesterday evening’s meeting of the Service Group Executive here – and I have commented a little upon it here.

Update on Monday evening.

I’m glad to see UNISON Health Conference is reaffirming our opposition to privatisation. I hope the message is getting through that the “change of tone” some in our Union have noticed from the Government since the change of Tone for Gordon is indeed “not enough.”

I am also following with interest the discussions leading up to tomorrow’s Conference debate upon the three year pay offer from the Government.

Update on Tuesday morning.

It is reported that the Conference may not now get to vote to express an opinion on the pay offer.

Let’s hope that the Conference gets to decide upon a recommendation to UNISON members...


Anonymous said...

Hi Jon

Re the Tuesday update - is it me or are the SOC making decisions on political rather than technical grounds? Who elects/appoints the SOC? Was just wondering as this body seems to be consistently doing the leadership's bidding. Seems to me that this is just one of the bureaucratic means by which democracy in our union is being eroded.

Best Wishes
UNISON member
Sandwell Council

Anonymous said...

Probably both!

Thanks for your blog - it's an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to know what is going on in our union.



Anonymous said...

Union conference or gameshow?

Since when has an amendment recommending an immediate post debate vote on two opposite positions been in any way competent?

You just couldn't make it up.

No SOC under the sun would admit such gibberish onto a union agenda. Whether or not it has been submitted by the SGE makes no difference. The Standing Orders of the union do not allow for votes to be taken on anything other than a competent motion. This morning the SGE tried to move reference back on its 'take your pick' amendment but conference saw through it for the nonsensical position it was.

Putting the deal to our members in a consultative ballot is the correct outcome - if it is rejected then industrial action must and will come on to the agenda.

Anonymous said...

The option of rejecting the whole deal was before conference in composite 2. The option of recommending acceptance of year one and rejecting years two and three was moved by Scotland in motion 3. A conference (razor thin) majority went with the motion 1 option of 'letting the members decide'.
That was the democratic outcome - a decision of conference not the SGE.

The SGE did not make a recommendation because it was deadlocked and the conference vote reflected that. It couldn't agree a recommendation so how could it put one before conference? There is nothing sensible about the amendment if you read it and there is no such thing as 'allowing a vote' unless you put a position forward.

Sorry conspiracy theorists out there but the problem was as basic as that - and nothing to do with the SOC.....

Jon Rogers said...

It's true that the SGE were deadlocked when it came to making a recommendation - they were however (ahead of that vote) overwhelmingly in favour of a recommendation being made.

I don't think one has to believe in a conspiracy to be disappointed that those charged with applying our Rules to achieve our Aims and Objects could not structure the debate in such a way that the Conference could choose in a straightforward way between different options.

What matters now is that the Rules must not be used - as they were last year - to hobble those wishing to express a point of view.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point entirely. The SOC can only work with the material which is submitteed to it. In this case the proposition by the SGE was erroneous and incompetent. What else could the SOC do?

Anonymous said...


I wasn't at conference but if as the other anon says motion 1 was passed at conference and that motion stated any full member consultation should have had no recommendation, then clearly the will of the "supreme governing body" of the service group had been expressed.

A victory for lay democracy don't you think? Even if it didn't give you the answer you wanted.

Kate Ahrens said...

I was at conference. I'm not sure the outcome was really what anyone wanted, but it certainly does have the very strong merit that now the full health membership can vote on this offer with the freedom of branches to advise and give recommendations to their members.
The overwhelming view of the Service Group Executive was that we wanted to give a recommendation, but the vote on what that recommendation should be was tied 19 votes to 19.
What we wanted most of all was to give conference the clear choice between recommending acceptance or rejection. That was not allowed by the decision of the SOC. I think that could have been allowed if the spirit had been willing to find a way, but I don't believe in some paranoid conspiracy to prevent a choice.
Instead Conference had to choose between three options: a free vote in a consultative ballot, an immediate rejection and a move to an industrial action ballot, or the Scottish proposal to accept the first year, and reject the other two - a choice which is not actually in front of us.
Conference narrowly chose the free vote.
What's important now is that we all get out there and make sure the members have a clear informed choice and that as many as possible actually participate in the ballot.

Anonymous said...

I see, Nick Holden, one of the self proclaimed co-authors of the SGE's 'take your pick' amendment is now acknowledging that it was indeed unfit for the confertnce agenda.

Do you care to rethink your unfair rush to judgment of the Health Conference SOC...'this does look on the face of it like a decision which is either unacceptably political or unbelievably pedantic'?

Anonymous said...

I see - a case of never the let the facts get in the way of oppositional prejudice. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I've sat on the Local Govt Conference SOC for a number of years, and my branch has submitted a number of motions and rule amendments to NDC recently that have been ruled out of order.

My experience of both situations leads me to hold the same view as Jon regarding the recent functioning of SOC's in our union - they seem to have a policing role rather than an facilitating one. That's been a source of discussion at the Local Govt SOC, as people are genuinely wanting to help branches rather than deny them the opportunity to debate issues they consider to be important.

The number of motions and rule amendments ruled out of order for this year's NDC highlights that there's a problem that needs addressing - 241 submitted, of which 117 were thrown out. That's over 48%! Whatever your view of what's caused this, we need to have a good look at our processes and find a way to have the debates.

Malc Campbell