Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Other business from the UNISON NEC

I did say I would come back to today’s disagreement about the Annual Report at the meeting of UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC).

I think this warrants a properly considered post rather than something I write at midnight, so I’ll be back to this tomorrow.

The issue of contention was, as UNISON Branch Secretaries and Treasurers will certainly realise, the question of branch funding – and the implications for branch funding of proposals to establish a fighting fund to resource litigation on Equal Pay.

The other issue which has emerged this week concerns the future of UNISON’s Service Groups. A report which ought (we were told) never to have been sent to members of UNISON’s Local Government Service Group Executive was circulated in error. This provoked outrage in some quarters as it had not been sent to other Service Groups, let alone the NEC (some NEC members still harbour the illusion that they are running the trade union on the basis of a pedantic reading of Rule D.2.1).

So now everyone knows that a small working group have been considering three options, one which would see little change, one which would merge small service groups and transfer members in schools into an “education” service group, and one which would abolish our service group structures altogether and replace them with “sectors”.

Obviously no one showed me a copy of this report as all recipients (well all those with emails) were apparently told to destroy it as soon as it became clear that it had been circulated in error. Therefore everything I have to say is based upon informed speculation.

I speculate that any changes which would require two thirds of Conference 2009 to vote for a Rule Amendment probably need to be the subject of a genuinely inclusive and transparent process of consultation and discussion almost exactly unlike the process that led to the writing of the report that no one has seen. I don’t think that the current structures of our Union are sacrosanct, but I do think that any changes which reduce lay democracy are unlikely to be in the interests of our members, and I think that any proposals which have to be kept secret in their formative stages are never very likely to win the assent of the volunteer lay activists whose commitment is the heart and soul of our trade union.

But then what do I know? I had the honour to be a member of one of the teams who came joint last in the fund raising quiz before last night’s NEC meeting…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not even last - but joint last. Where's the joy in that? Or was it the NECs position of "collective responsbility"?!

This thing about the service groups just about says it all. There's democracy in UNISON, then there's the work that goes on behind closed doors that slips out....by mistake!

The basic principle of democracy is great in the union - I have a radical idea, though. Why not remove the sham of any interest in serving the needs of members in "the smaller service groups" and go back to what was there before......
Just let go of our members who were forced through the abhorrent process of privatisation of our nationalised utilities - they're just nuisance who happen to largely pay in the slightly higher subs rates to enable the work of the wider union.

Maybe break UNISON up and start something like, oh I don't know, the National Association of Local Govt Officers.... and go back to COSHE and NUPE too!!

What was issued by email was a mistake only in terms of the fact it was released. In the absence of any public output of the work that this body has been doing, the sum total is this; a "leaked document", that appears to see to do away with structures that most active members are keen to work with. Maybe it'll reduce the numbers of staff required? And the sums saved there can go to support the Equal Pay fund.

I am clearly both a visionary and a genius.... and if I'd been on that quiz team, you'd have come second to last ;-)