Thursday, November 19, 2009

Development and Organisation Committee report (or the laziness of the long distance blogger)

Although the recent troubles of First Capital Connect are lengthening my commute recently it still isn't really long enough to keep blogging up to date with work at the moment so I'm cheating now and rather than blogging a full report of last week's Development and Organisation Committee meeting I will simply share the report I have submitted for the next Regional Council - with minor embellishments perhaps.

There has not been a full NEC meeting since the last Regional Council.

The NEC Development and Organisation Committee met on 11 November.

Several of the items discussed at that meeting - including reports on recruitment and the Three Companies Project will no doubt be covered in other reports to the Regional Council. (Although I will add here that we had quite a full report on the project at the Committee - and subsequently- on Tuesday - I was able to advise the Regional Officials that London may be the scene for one of the major organising drives as part of the project)(perhaps not calling it a blitz though...)

There are three particular items to which I would like to draw the attention of Regional Council delegates.

First, the Committee endorsed transitional arrangements for the establishment of the new and revised service group structures as agreed at National Delegate Conference.

These will enable elections to take place to the Service Group Executives. As the detail of the transitional arrangements varies between Service Groups I will not report on them all in detail here but will be happy to provide details on request.

The Committee also specifically endorsed a proposed scheme of representation for branch delegates to the first Conference of the new Community Service Group which is due to take place in November 2010.

This scheme in relation to which I had raised various questions (about which I will happily provide further information on request) provides for all branches with at least one member in the Service Group to be entitled to one delegate. Those few branches with more than 250 members of the Service Group get a second delegate, with a third for 500 members and an additional delegate per 500 members thereafter.

(Those with an interest in this matter can scroll down over a couple of recent posts to see my doomed attempt to suggest amendments to the scheme of representation to the Conference to make it more representative).

This does mean that many London branches will need to budget for attendance at this Conference in 2010 and make arrangements for members in the new Service Group to elect a delegate or delegates.

The second important matter which I need to raise concerns the scheme of representation for branches at Service Group Conferences. Although the Rule Book gives the responsibility for this matter clearly to Service Group Executives (with the approval of the Service Group Conference) the Committee decided to recommend to the NEC that it use its power to implement proportionality and fair representation to impose upon Service Groups the scheme of branch representation agreed for National Delegate Conference.

The majority of the Committee accepted officer advice that this was within the Rules of the Union and disagreed with my view that this is a misreading of our Rule Book.

It is my judgement as one of your NEC members that - even if this is within our Rules (which I do not accept) it is a serious error for the NEC to infringe the autonomy of Service Groups in this way. This view is underlined by the fact that the motivation for this proposal is the convenience of consistency in the application of online delegate registration and that consultation was with National Secretaries and not Service Group Executives.

Given the decision of the NEC in October on the collective accountability of members of NEC Committees, were I to vote in accordance with my judgement at the NEC (against this proposal) I would be referred to the Presidential Team who could recommend my exclusion from the Development and Organisation Committee.

Since I consider myself to be accountable to those who elected me I would welcome feedback from London branches as to whether I should vote in accordance with my considered judgement or should abstain in spite of this in order to avoid possible exclusion from the Committee. I can be contacted at j.rogers@unison.co.uk and would welcome your views.

(I would also welcome comments on the blog of course.)

The third important matter to report is that the Committee determined a timetable for the next Service Group Executive elections - these will be published following approval by the December NEC. These elections will include, according to the appropriate transitional arrangements, elections to the new and revised Service Groups as agreed at National Delegate Conference.

Those who want to make UNISON a more effective and democratic Union to confront the challenges ahead need to be thinking - and talking - about candidates for these important elections.

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