Thursday, January 15, 2015

Let's not perpetrate a fraud upon members involved in the single fraud investigation service transfer!

I’ll try to catch up with blogging issues from Tuesday’s UNISON Regional Committee, Wednesday’s meeting of the UNISON NEC Development and Organisation Committee and today’s meeting of the Executive of the UNISON Greater London Regional Local Government Committee as time permits. As you can imagine I am ecstatic to have had three such meetings on consecutive days.

One issue which cropped up today was the transfer of staff from local authorities to the Department of Work and Pensions as part of the Single Fraud Investigation Service transfer from local authorities to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This is an entirely foolish Government initiative which makes no sense and will do no good (so much like most things our employers get up to).

Whilst UNISON’s national officials have given good advice and helped many branches to deal with the issues raised by this transfer (in which responsibility for the investigation of some fraud will pass from local authorities to central Government) it is regrettable that, from time to time, it has been suggested that we should be seeking UNISON recognition with the DWP and encouraging members to remain with UNISON to the exclusion of joining the appropriate recognised trade union.

We most certainly should not. 

We have a sister trade union which organises in that area – PCS. When PCS had members transfer to local government they quite properly arranged for them to transfer into UNISON. We should do the same not only out of simple decency (although that is a consideration our leadership ought to take account of) but because we – as a trade union – are not as capable of representing members transferred to the DWP as are PCS.

Our branches and activists have plenty to do organising the fragmented public service workforce without wantonly taking on representation of members for whom a perfectly satisfactory alternative trade union exists, with recognition we do not have and organisation in that sector which we cannot match. To encourage such would indeed be to perpetrate a singular fraud upon the members involved in the single fraud transfer.

I’m sure the suggestion that we keep members in UNISON was just an excess of otherwise entirely laudable enthusiasm to recruit and retain members and in no way an attempt to join the undermining of PCS by the Tory-led Government. It is contrary to UNISON Rule B.1.4 to encourage members to remain (exclusively) members of UNISON in such circumstances where to do so fails to promote their interests.

UNISON should no more be organising civil servants than we should be organising teachers or firefighters. It would be a good idea if we put a clear stop to any such nonsense.

Now would be a good time.


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