Thursday, July 04, 2013

General Secretary's report to the UNISON NEC

Wednesday's meeting of UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) was dominated by the allocation of NEC members to Committees, and the election of Committee Chairs for the next two years.

General Secretary, Dave Prentis, did however give his characteristically wide-ranging "state of the Union" report.

He began with the demonstration in defence of the National Health Service in Manchester on 29 September, emphasising that this is a priority for the Union. In response to subsequent questions, Dave confirmed that a note would be going out to our Regions the very next day.

Details of the demonstration are apparently set to be finalised at a meeting of the TUC Executive on 9 July. Within UNISON lead responsibility is being given to the North West Region, a decision which may these days have some political as well as geographical merit.

Dave also covered pay in his report, expressing his disappointment that members had not generally been stronger on this issue this year (rest assured that several questioners expressed the view that it might be the leadership who most need to show more strength!)

I was one of those confident that Dave did not intend the more downbeat interpretations of his remark that no one Union, nor one sector, could expect to breach the 1% pay policy for public servants.

With Scottish Local Government workers set to commence a strike ballot with just this aim in mind, and the Higher Education Service Group Executive (SGE) agreeing (at a meeting which - quite annoyingly - clashed with Wednesday's NEC meeting) to ballot for action also, it's clear that the best-led elements of our Union are fed up waiting for a pay dispute that always recedes into the future as time passes. The challenge to our NEC (and our General Secretary) is to give a clear and inspirational lead.

On a more positive note, Dave invited Assistant General Secretary Bronwyn McKenna to report on UNISON's application for judicial review of the Government's imposition of fees for claimants in employment tribunals. Whether or not we succeed in this legal challenge it has certainly been the right thing to do, as sometimes litigation is the only available response to injustice.

UNISON has separately referred to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the absurd legal restrictions on industrial action ballots imposed by UK law and has won a vitally important, precedent setting Supreme Court decision that school staff can use refuse collectors as comparators in equal pay claims.

Dave also reported that every Region would be organising an event to mark the 65th anniversary of the NHS and covered the challenge which the Union faces to recruit more members and to shift resources from the Centre to the Regions.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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