Thursday, February 24, 2011

Next business?

Continuing with the theme of intermittent reporting of bits of yesterday's UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) meeting pending my having a chance to write a full report, I thought I would share with you (dear reader) a tale of a procedural manouevre which went a bit wrong.

Ahead of the meeting I had asked about the process whereby UNISON would decide whether or not to appeal the Employment Tribunal decision in the case of Kelly and others -v- UNISON (http://www.scribd.com/mobile/documents/47882948).

This followed a lively (if damp) lobby of the NEC yesterday morning (http://www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk/).

I was advised that the NEC would not be permitted to debate this but that I could raise the point at a particular point on the agenda, at which point the Deputy General Secretary would explain why the NEC could not discuss this and I could seek to oppose this (and doubtless lose any subsequent vote). I agreed to raise the issue at that point rather than at the outset - so that any disagreement did not detract from a unified response to attacks on jobs and pensions.

In the event though, my attempt even to ask a question about this case prompted an irate NEC member to move, in a somewhat intemperate way, "next business". Upon my insisting that this should be voted upon, the President permitted a vote on this procedural motion, which was (predictably) carried.

Although the mover of the procedural motion achieved their desire that no one should be able to answer the question, that I had by then already asked, they also (thanks to the support of the majority of NEC members) ensured that no disciplinary cases in which NEC decisions were required can be carried forward until the next NEC meeting.

It's a small point, but it does illustrate the importance of thinking before acting.

For my part, I have been trying for some years to move "next business" in a general way and move our union on from what I believe to be unwarranted use of disciplinary procedures for some time.

I'm afraid I can't promise not to ask a similar question at the next meeting. I can however think of a fairly simple way for us to avoid having to spend further time on such matters.

Now let's move on to next business...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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