Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Development and Organisation Committee report

In advance of today's meeting of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) I yesterday attended a meeting of the Development and Organisation (D&O) Committee.

This was a meeting only to discuss Conference business and so we will have to wait for Wednesday 12 May to consider reports on branches under Regional Supervision and recent Certification Officer rulings (about both of which I had enquired).

The meeting considered recommendations to go to today's NEC for NEC policy on Conference Motions and Rule Amendments relevant to the Committee's remit (so I shall hold off a full report circulated to branches until after today's meeting).

First we considered Rule Amendments. We were told that the NEC had fallen foul of a glitch in the new online system for submission of Rule Amendments - and hence one NEC Rule Amendment had not found its way onto the Preliminary Agenda. The NEC will have to prevail upon the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) to admit the Rule Amendment to the Final Agenda (and to timetable it for debate) if we are to comply with Rule N.3.

I was alone at the Committee in supporting the proposals from the Kirklees and Bolton branches to impose a 24 month time limit on bans from holding office under our disciplinary rules. Other colleagues felt that such a restriction would only make it more likely that panels would expel members facing disciplinary sanction, although there was some support for considering a (longer) maximum period next year.

The Committee did not take a view on Lambeth's proposal to introduce disciplinary warnings into Schedule D pending legal advice. As regular readers Sid and Doris Conference-Anorak will be able to imagine, I was driven to point out that this was a disgraceful slur on the SOC who have admitted the Amendment to the agenda and clearly believe it to be a competent Amendment. It would appear that some readers of this blog at Mabledon Place believe in getting the legal advice you want (and going back and getting it again until it is what you want...)

There were only a few motions relevant to D&O, but we had an interesting debate in relation to one - Motion 8 from Worcestershire County instructing the NEC to publish a directory of branch contact details. The officers were clearly unhappy with this and - although we were not being recommended to oppose yesterday - the arguments against were being rehearsed.

However a wide range of Committee members with divergent views were united in our support for the publication of an accurate and up to date Branch Directory which is a useful tool for research in support of bargaining and to refer members to the right place for advice. I hope the Branch Directory will be published before Conference so that the purpose of the motion can be achieved without the need to take up Conference time - however, it might still be wise to prioritise Motion 8 (as today's NEC will not be taking a position for or against the motion yet and I wouldn't rule out further attempts to avoid publication of a document which is not popular at Head Office).

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