Monday, March 23, 2015

Support Composite C at the Special Local Government Conference

I was very pleased this evening to attend the excellent eve-of-Special-Conference fringe meeting hosted by the Camden branch.

The attendance at the fringe meeting was (in spite of the fact that so many delegates are not yet in London) more than enough to call for a card vote.

But we won't.

Unless and until we must.

We won't waste time.

There was an overwhelming mood to get through Conference business (without stifling debate) in order to ensure that delegates can have their say on the one Composite motion opposed by the Service Group Executive.

It would be a mistake to waste Conference time challenging the foolish decision to take a ninety minute lunch break out of an already foreshortened Conference.

It would be equally unwise to take time to point out that Composite A (the "get the leadership out of jail free" Composite) ought not to be on the agenda because its major component part (Motion 44) was incompetent in the first place.

Such challenges will take up Conference time without any realistic hope of a positive outcome, whereas there is genuine uncertainty about the outcome of substantive debates on policy.

We have little time.

We have much to do.

Comrades with good political points to make must make them briefly.

We are not going to the Special Conference to listen to speeches. We are there to make policy.

I have every confidence in the ability of rank and file activists to make good arguments with brevity and wit.

If we listen to a hundred good speeches but fail to agree Composite C we will have achieved very little.

The audience tomorrow is not the entirety of our membership, it is a small subset of the leading activists in our local government branches.

It is unlikely that the greatest of speeches tomorrow will win new adherents to socialism, or recruits to any organisation.

There is no significant controversy on the order of business ahead of Composite C.

If we debate Composite C delegates must be prepared to call for a card vote.

For, win or lose, we must know who was with us and who opposed having a worthwhile trade union (and a card vote is more likely to produce the result which supporters of Composite C seek).

Delegates must be prepared to move "the question be put" ruthlessly and without consideration for the desire of other delegates to make valid and important points.

And other delegates must reflect upon why they were sent to London tomorrow - and support such moves.

We are a trade union, not a debating society.

We need to show the same discipline on Conference floor tomorrow that we would hope for on a picket line.

And we must ensure that every UNISON member in local government can know how their delegates voted on the key question of whether we seek to resist the capitulation on local government pay.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

1 comment:

John said...

Hi Jon,
2 Points: 1) Providing information about the motions at today's conference is useful for those of us who've not seen them, but it is a bit late to give advice (if that was your intention) for mandating the delegate.

2) Composite C seeks to reopen this years pay negotiations - that is not going to happen. With the most optimistic view in the world and no matter how much we would all like a better pay rise this year the industrial action needed from the members to force the employers to reopen negotiations (let alone pay anymore) is just not going to happen. If this composite is passed all that will happen is that the union's resources (officer's time and finances) will be wasted.

The most important composite to day is B. If the principle of lay representation being present when talking to the employers can be established that will do more in the long run for the members, than building up false hopes of reopening this year's pay negotiations.