Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Higher Education Service Group Conference - the unexpurgated version

Fellow UNISON NEC blogger, Max Watson, provides a somewhat fuller report of UNISON's Higher Education Service Group Conference than the official version to which I linked previously (http://maxwatsonunison.blogspot.com/2012/03/anger-and-frustration-over-pensions-in.html?m=1). I shall not repeat his report - which you should read in the original - but will instead offer some comment.

Now that we know that it would be unjustifiable discipline to be taken to task for criticising a Standing Orders Committee (SOC) within UNISON, I can safely observe that SOCs need to remember that their power to rule motions out of order under Rule P. is subject to the preamble in Rule P.2.3.4.

This says that the consideration by an SOC of motions which have been submitted to a Conference is "for the purpose of enabling Conference to transact its business effectively."

In the case of a Service Group Conference the relevant business is defined by Rule D.3.4.2 which states that "the policies of a Service Group shall be determined by the Group's Conference."

Therefore an SOC at a Service Group Conference which ruled motions on a key service conditions issue out of order because of minor terminological inexactitude (for example, misdescribing "Principles of Agreement" as "Heads of Agreement") would arguably be acting against Rule P.2.3.4 to frustrate rather than facilitate the purpose of the Conference they are supposed to serve.

There may be those in the UNISON Centre who believe that SOCs exist for the convenience of the office, to shield it from accountability to the elected representatives of our members - but that isn't what the Rule Book endorsed by our membership says.

It's time to call a halt to the atrophy of lay democracy in our trade union - and it sounds as if Higher Education delegates said that loud and clear. I hope this call is heeded without the need for too much strife - but it must be heeded.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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