Sunday, February 23, 2014
Who is taking action to protect UNISON members? Not the current leadership of the Greater London Region.
As is so often the case, I'm a bit behind with my report of last Wednesday's meeting of the UNISON NEC.
One point I'll pick up on is the report which we are now receiving regularly of industrial action ballots at branch level, of which there were 32 reported to our most recent meeting.
The majority of these are in two of our large Regions, Yorkshire and Humberside (9) and Scotland (8). There were three ballots in each of the North West and East Midlands Regions and two each in Northern, West Midlands and Wales.
In Greater London (as in each of the South East and South West Regions) only one ballot was reported (leaving the Northern Ireland and Eastern Regions reporting no ballots).
I know that London's one ballot is a tribute to rank and file activism at branch level - rather than any sort of sensible or strategic leadership from the Region - were it not for the sort of committed leftwing activists which officials at Congress House love to hate then we would be reporting a duck like the East Anglians and the Northern Irish.
It is lamentable that UNISON in Greater London, under its current Regional leadership, has shown itself unable to facilitate action by members in defence of our own interests. This is the hallmark of a dysfunctional UNISON Region which has not been capable of holding a quorate Regional Council meeting other than its AGM since 2005.
It is ironic that, at Tuesday's forthcoming Annual General Meeting of the Greater London Regional Council a motion from the Lambeth branch (in which I declare an interest!) has been ruled out of order. The motion concerns industrial action, and seeks to address the right-wing antipathy to such action which infests UNISON's Greater London Regional office.
There can be little doubt that officials in UNISON's Greater London Region are routinely breaching UNISON Rule B.2.2, which defines UNISON as a "member-led" Union. This is nowhere as clear as in relation to industrial action, a vital tactical option which needs to be available to trade unionists in any dispute, but which is seemingly viewed with horror on the first floor of Congress House.
I salute the one competency of the officials at Regional Office (which is the ability to use all those full-time resources to control votes at the Regional AGM) but, with the greatest of respect to that ability, I would encourage all delegates at the Regional AGM to vote for the slate of candidates headed by Glenn Kelly for Convenor.
I have had my differences with Glenn over the years - but a vote for the slate he heads is a vote for an effective, responsive democratic UNISON in Greater London - and whatever the result on Tuesday we need a renewed effort at organisation by those of us with a principled, non-sectarian, commitment to effective trade unionism (which must - of necessity - mean unconditional commitment to support struggles against all forms of oppression).
I am proud to be a member of UNISON and of its Lambeth branch. I am fed up with having to be ashamed of the Region.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.