Friday, March 15, 2013

Councillors Against the Cuts - a priority for UNISON Conference

I'll blog a report of tomorrow's Councillors Against the Cutsmeeting in Birmingham later in the weekend.

Today's news is that the following motion, from the Lambeth Branch (and perhaps others?) has been approved by the Standing Orders Committee for admission to the Preliminary Agenda for UNISON's National Delegate Conference.

The motion is cautiously worded (following an experience of having a straightforwardly "anti-cuts" motion calling for deficit budgets ruled out of order a few years ago). It is of course open to amendment if comrades feel that is needed (although it would be wise to have regard to the guidance which is available on drafting Conference motions and amendments!)

The first thing which needs to be done is that the motion needs to be prioritised for debate. This means that branches need to put it forward as a high priority to their Regions (each Region, as well as Service Groups, Self-Organised Groups and the NEC can express up to twelve priorities - I won't go on at length about the prioritisation process as you can search the archives of this blog if you want to explore its intricacy and wonder - this six year old post for example...)

Anyway, this is the text of the motion which UNISON members need to prioritise if they want to see it debated at Conference (unless someone else has got a better version on the agenda elsewhere?);

Councillors Against the Cuts

Conference restates our opposition, expressed at National Delegate Conference 2012, to to the sustained attack on public services resulting from the savage cuts to local government funding being inflicted over more than 5 years by the ideologically driven Tory led government.

Conference notes that these continuing attacks have prompted debate within local government about how progressive local authorities should respond, and believes that UNISON should be involved in these debates.

Conference notes the emergence of the group "Councillors Against Cuts" and notes that this brings together Councillors who express the following views;

*           "We are a new network of local councillors formed to support the fight against cuts. We believe that instead of implementing the Coalition's cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so and help workers and communities organise in resistance.

*           We are pledged to vote against all cuts to services and jobs, increases in rents and charges, and increases in council tax.

*           We do not accept that cuts are "necessary": there is plenty of money in society, but it is in the wrong hands. Taxing the rich and business, taking the wealth of the banks and cutting Trident are all rich sources of funds.

*           We stand in solidarity with anti-cuts campaigns, with people defending their local services and with the broader community, tenants and residents, our children, disabled people, pensioners etc - in defence of the living standards and rights of the most vulnerable people in society as the Coalition government attacks them."

Conference believes that the emergence of Councillors Against the Cuts is a welcome addition to the debate which needs to take place in the labour and trade union movement about how to respond to the Coalition's cuts.

Conference therefore

1. Calls upon the National Executive Council to initiate a debate in the labour and trade union movement about how Councils and Councillors should respond to the continuing savage spending cuts imposed by Central Government, consistent with UNISON Rules and agreed policy, and;

2. Requests that UNISON Labour Link establishes a dialogue with Councillors Against the Cuts in order to determine the scope for joint campaigning activity within UNISON Rules and agreed policy.

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