Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pining for an NEC meeting...

UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC) – of which I am a member – is supposed to run the Union in between meetings of our Conference. In previous years the NEC has met in July and, as part of that meeting, has received a report noting the decisions of Conference and confirming to which of its Committees it is referring the implementation of those decisions.

This year, for the first time, the NEC will not meet after Conference until October, as a result of an earlier decision of the NEC itself (which I did not support).

Conference has agreed, by accepting Motion 63 as amended to review the operation of our political funds, yet the NEC as a whole will not have an opportunity to express an opinion about how to implement this decision until October. NEC members who are not members of that august body “the Objective 3 Scrutiny Group” may have little involvement.

Conference has agreed, by accepting Motion 45 as amended, to instruct the NEC to review our democratic processes and to report back to Conference 2009 - such a report would need to be concluded by February and the NEC as a whole will not be able to consider this matter at all until just four months before that deadline.

The work being carried out to review our branch and service group structures, following last year's Conference decision will be discussed by the Development and Organisation Committee in July, but not (as things stand) by the whole NEC until October at the earliest.

There will be no opportunity for the NEC as a whole to discuss or agree a timely contribution to the SOC Review of Conference, a great shame in the light of the interesting comments of the Chair of SOC in introducing SOC Report No. 2.

Overall, I think that many members would consider that the NEC are abdicating our responsibility to the membership by failing to meet - except to deal with Conference business at Conference - for four months between our June and October meetings.

I have commented recently about how it seems to me that the role of the NEC is being undermined at present. I have a bit of a sense of our Union as somewhat rudderless – it is the responsibility of our NEC to do something about this, and I hope that we will accept that responsibility and not leave it to a range of smaller and less accountable bodies.

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