Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Prioritising Conference Motions

The key priority for union activists right now is the defence of jobs - however we also need to give some thought to our forthcoming UNISON Conference, and the topic of prioritisation of the Conference agenda - about which I have blogged before (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2007/04/more-much-more-on-conference-priorities.html) ad nauseam (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2008/03/prioritising-unison-conference.html).

Not all of the 124 policy motions admitted on to the agenda by the Standing Orders Committee will be debated, and the final order of business will be structured in accordance with the outcome of a prioritisation process in which branches can have a say.

Bearing in mind that motions originating from the National Executive, Regions and National Self-Organised Groups can expect to be prioritised by those bodies, activists need to pay particular attention to lobbying for support for worthy motions from branches to ensure that these do not fall off the agenda altogether.

I offer the following initial thoughts about some of the motions which might be worth prioritising;

Motion 20 from Birmingham on Public Sector Pay raises an issue we need to push up the agenda - we can't let this be the first pay freeze in history not to be broken by trade union action.

Clearly if we are to take such action we need also to defend our rights to do so (such as they are) and that must mean prioritising Motion 80 from Havering, "Defend Trade Union Rights".

Of the various motions on pensions I am obviously inclined to argue for support for Motion 26, "Defend All Pensions" from Lambeth. I hope that several of the pensions motions are prioritised and that a unifying composite motion can be agreed.

Looking at the various motions dealing with the cuts, their impact and our opposition, Motion 35 from Somerset, "National Organisation Against the Cuts" stands out for its advocacy of nonviolent direct action whilst Motion 78, "Youth Unemployment and Young Black People" from Hammersmith and Fulham highlights an important issue.

In a first for this blog (which will shock regular readers Sid and Doris Conference-Anorak) I'd also like to see a motion from the Manchester branch prioritised - Motion 66 which calls for a demonstration when the Tories meet in that city in the autumn.

We need to retain a focus on opposition to the far right - and I think Ealing's Motion 104 on the EDL strikes the right note (mobilising mass opposition is a wiser strategy than calling for bans).

Of three motions on housing (54, 55 and 56) I think Somerset's Motion 56, "Housing Emergency" has the edge (but will listen to colleagues in housing on this of course).

9 of the 14 International motions deal in some way with the Middle East - but because of the pace of events since February's deadline I think it's inevitable that the key international debate will have to be around an Emergency Motion which has not yet even been written.

Finally, Glasgow branch have once more put down a motion (Motion 71 - "Democratic Socialism") which seeks to commit UNISON to support socialist policies. Since all the other motions deal with various problems which capitalism creates for us, I am tempted to support this step forward on the "resolutionary road to socialism."

Since the prioritisation process repays organising between branches I would be interested in the views of other activists.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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