Thursday, March 19, 2015
UNISON Special Conference - Out to lunch?
Delegates to UNISON's Special Local Government Conference next Tuesday have now received the Final Agenda (about which I shall blog further shortly).
As you might expect, the timetable for the day is set out in the documents. The Conference will open at 11am and close at 4.30pm. The late start time is clearly intended to enable branches within three hours travel time from London to avoid the expense of overnight accommodation if they wish - and the early finish is equally intended to enable all those apart from the furthest flung to return home the same day.
The limits to Conference time set by these constraints are entirely comprehensible.
What is a little difficult to swallow is the fact that, within the five and a half hours of Conference time, it is proposed to have a ninety minute lunch break (from 12.30pm until 2pm). (Actually I suppose that with so long to chew our food we could swallow anything) (which may be the point?)
Many of our members work for five and a half hours without taking a break - but we shall expect ourselves to spend more than a quarter of our time lunching! Even though it is only those motions which attracted some support in the pre-Conference prioritisation process which can be debated there are still more motions for debate than we are likely to be able to deal with in four hours of Conference time.
Doubtless many of our activists who are used to often working through lunch will consider challenging this aspect of the Conference timetable when the timetable is put to delegates to be ratified - but that is probably ill-advised.
The time taken up on challenges to the Standing Orders Committee, by their reconsideration and subsequent report back would all simply serve to reduce the paltry four hours of debating time available to address the most catastrophic national pay dispute in local government history.
The absurd and unjustifiable decision to write such an unnecessarily long lunch break into the timetable for our Special Conference is, let's face it pretty small beer compared to the conduct of the pay dispute by our national officials.
Or perhaps several large beers...?
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.