Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Regional Committee meeting

I don’t have a lot of time today, but having found an incisive analysis of current trends in public service management I had to blog a link to it. So have a look!

Today’s meeting of the UNISON Greater London Regional Committee was described by its Chair as a good meeting.

In a diverse and democratic trade union there may of course be room for other views.

I am afraid I missed the debate on pay but understand that delegates from the health service and local government service groups both expressed concern about our below inflation pay offers.

The Committee was advised that there will be a briefing in November for London branches on the new branch assessment process being introduced from January. Malcolm Campbell, representing the local government Committee, spoke up for branches who are concerned about this process, which could all too easily be seen as some sort of “appraisal” of branches by Regional Organisers.

That is not the intention nationally and we must ensure that it does not become the practice regionally.

I asked about arrangements in the Region for consultation on the more significant question of our future service group structures and was advised that this would be taking place soon.

The Committee had a lengthy debate in response to consultation on the proposal to increase the limit for the definition of “low pay” for reserved seats for low paid women workers. It was agreed to support the principle of increasing the limit in view of the difficulty which is being experienced in getting candidates for seats at the current rate.

We were told that the Regional Council officers, on behalf of the Region, had expressed support for the current scheme of representation for branches at National Delegate Conference. Malcolm Campbell once again took the lead in questioning why this had been done without any consultation with the branches who had been expressing concern.

Branches with a membership below 2,000 are not affected in any way by the restrictions upon branch representation (other than the requirement for proportionality as between men and women which is a very clear Rule Book requirement). It would be very interesting to know how many delegates from those branches were either low paid or young members. So I shall ask.

In discussion about the forthcoming Regional Council we were advised of the proposals for speakers at the meeting which had come from the Regional Council officers. Since one of these proposals was for a speaker on the http://www.wateratwork.org/ campaign I suggested we invite the UNISON NEC member elected by our members in the relevant service group.

Committee members noticed that the Regional Council officers had omitted to invite a speaker about public sector pay and when this addition was suggested the Regional Secretary felt that we should really await guidance from the NEC about how UNISON would be responding to the TUC decision (to support a Composite motion moved by UNISON).

In order to avoid any difficulty I suggested that we invite the mover of the Composite at the TUC, UNISON Deputy General Secretary, Keith Sonnet and this was agreed by the Committee.

NEC members could not give a full NEC report since there had been no NEC meeting, but I was able to remind the meeting about forthcoming consultation on the political funds and on UNISON democracy.

And that was about it really...

Although I did ask Labour Link Chair, Louise Couling how we could win the next General Election to which she said "vote Labour" (which I intend to, but I fear my vote alone may not be enough). Though Louise's witty comment was greeted with much hilarity I am not sure that telling people to vote Labour to avoid a Tory Government will work well next time.

I look forward to those who take this view stating it openly in internal UNISON elections and being honest about their politics in front our our members.

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