Wednesday, April 02, 2008

More about Conference priorities

For those thinking about the question of prioritisation of UNISON Conference motions, here are a dozen interesting motions which may not attract the support in the prioritisation process which their importance warrants. This is my personal blog and these are my personal thoughts. There are many other important motions on the Conference agenda!

It may well make sense for branches and others who will have some say in the prioritisation process to await decisions from next week's NEC meeting, as there is always an argument in favour of prioritising motions which the NEC oppose (as non-prioritised motions will eventually be referred to the NEC).

These are not necessarily the most important motions on the agenda and certainly not the motions likely to head up the order of business – but all of them are worth a look…

Motion 11 Moving Beyond the Two Tier Workforce

An attempt to address the shortcomings of the various Codes intended to avoid the nightmare of the two tier (or multi-tier!) workforce born of the recent obsession of Governments with privatisation and staff transfer.

Motion 38 Defend Council Housing

With a mere 30 Labour MPs backing Council Housing in the Commons on Monday it is important that we reaffirm UNISON’s support for council housing. (Yes, that’s council housing, not social housing, not affordable housing, as laudable and lovely as these are – we need a policy to defend council housing).

Motion 47 Teaching Black History

Motions from the Black Members Committee have not attracted high priority on a couple of recent occasions. Although this motion should (I hope!) attract the support of the NEC we also need to make sure that it is debated by Conference.

Motion 61 Victimisation of Union Activists

A motion from Eileen Short’s branch moved at the first Conference since the attacks on Karen Reissman and Michael Gavan. Support for this motion ought not to be controversial, but it is vitally important.

Motion 62 Agency Workers

A straightforward motion about the rights of agency workers which rightly condemns the Government – but more importantly focuses upon a key area for union campaigning if we are to reverse the decline in our strength and bargaining power.

Motion 72 Don’t Attack Iran

A motion which does exactly what it says on the tin, which would put us in the front line of opposition to the next war the neocons in Washington want to fight (without being uncritical in our attitude to a reactionary anti-worker regime).

Motion 73 Human and Trade Union Rights in Saudi Arabia

Obviously I am biased as this is from the Lambeth branch, but I do think that the corrupt relationship between the Saudi dictatorship and our Government is something that ought to be discussed a bit more in our movement. No doubt amendments could improve this motion, but this is an international issue which has been too low on the agenda for too long.

Motion 81 Migrant Workers

Opposition to immigration is not the sole preserve of the far right. There are those within the trade union movement who don’t understand UNISON’s progressive policies, and if the project to recruit and organise migrant workers is to make headway we need to reaffirm and reinforce our policies.

Motion 90 Abortion Rights

Every few years we see a dishonest attack upon abortion rights from the anti-choice lobby. It’s time those who support the right to choose started trying to make the political weather and this motion is a useful starting point.

Motion 96 Gun and Knife Crime

There is no doubt that this issue, which has also attracted the attention of National Black Members Conference, is an issue for the trade union movement, and this motion makes some policy proposals which take the debate forward.

Motion 110 No Trident Replacement

UNISON has clear policy of opposition to nuclear weapons but – as with many issues on which the Labour Party leadership ignore the feelings of the movement – we have to be watchful to reaffirm our policy and keep it in the spotlight if we are to see effective campaigning.

Motion 112 Expenses Payments for Unison Members

Not a motion destined for popularity with my NEC colleagues I fear, but one which is right in principle in that it tries to establish that the expenses we pay for union activity bear some relationship to those we negotiate with employers.

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