Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Plus ca change

Here is a sneak preview of the first paragraphs of my personal report of the first meeting of the new UNISON National Executive Council (NEC).

The meeting commenced with election of the Presidential Team. Gerry Gallagher was elected unopposed as President and Angela Lynes and Eleanor Smith were elected unopposed as Vice-Presidents. Eleanor is the first black member to hold the office of Vice-President.

The President then made some opening remarks, which he advised the NEC that he had written himself, in which he criticised the unnamed organisers of “what went on at the end of Conference” (when senior officers of the Union decided not to convene an NEC meeting because of the presence of a candidate who (despite having won most votes) had not been declared elected). Gerry expressed disappointment not for himself but for family members and others who had been upset. He said that he would be prepared to forgive these unidentified individuals but that it would take a long time to forget.

The NEC then embarked upon the equally purposeless annual exercise of the “review of Conference” in which NEC members are split into small groups to consider what went well and less well at Conference. The London NEC members were sat together for this and we agreed not to discuss any political points after some fairly forthright disagreements. I was disappointed that one fellow London NEC member was very dismissive of the General Secretary's keynote Conference speech in which he took up the question of our relationship with the Labour Party in a way which was welcomed by the great majority of delegates. I hope that we will hear more about this tomorrow.

The NEC then approved the allocation of members to Committees, and the Committees then met to elect their Chairs and Vice Chairs. I am a member of the Development and Organisation Committee once again (and, once again, only of that Committee).

Sue Highton is Chair of the Development and Organisation Committee once more with Chris Tansley as Chair.

Jane Carolan and Steve Warwick remain as Chair and Vice Chair of the Policy Committee.

Alison Shepherd remains Chair of the International Committee with Linda Sweet as Vice Chair.

Maureen LeMarinel Chairs the Services to Members Committee with Gerry Gallagher as Vice-Chair.

Bob Oram and Sue Forster remain Chair and Vice Chair of the Staffing Committee.

Mike Hayes and Fiona Smith remain as Chair and Vice Chair of the Finance Committee.

Angela Lynes and Colm Magee remain Chair and Vice Chair of the Industrial Action Committee to which I sought election without success.

The outcome of elections to the General Political Fund and Labour Link Committees are awaited as I write this.

In relation to the regrettable tone and content of the President's opening remarks I am pleased to report that a number of NEC members have made a constructive proposal to resolve the situation created by the candidate who won one of our elections not having been declared to have been elected.

It is a great shame that the leadership of the Union failed to take responsibility for a proactive and constructive response to this situation before (or for that matter after) the declaration of the results.

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