Tuesday, March 24, 2015
UNISON Special Conference - reasons to be cheerful
Today, delegates at UNISON's Special Local Government Conference took a small but necessary step in the direction of a member-led union which fights for our members.
The headline decision, taken when the Conference voted by 60 per cent to 40 per cent to support Composite C, was to submit a claim for a pay rise this April.
That was controversial because we accepted the appalling two year pay proposals following a consultative ballot in which members had accepted those proposals (because they were told that they were "the best that could be achieved by negotiation" and that the only alternative was "all out strike action.")
We were told that the employers had already intimated that they would refuse to reopen negotiations. We were told that we weren't being "realistic" and that we should stand by the decision taken in the consultative ballot (even though by this point the Conference had already agreed - with the support of the Service Group Executive - motions which were sharply critical of how that had been organised, pointing out that it had been undertaken in breach of our previously agreed procedures).
Conference delegates refused to be swayed by such unconvincing arguments and has now set UNISON on a course to campaign for better pay both now and in the future, rather than only in the future.
This is but a small step, with much work now to do. It is, however, a step in the right direction.
Credit is due to the Manchester branch for initiating the Special Conference, and to every branch who supported the call. Also to every branch who proposed motions for debate, and to lay members of the Standing Orders Committee for facilitating that debate.
Every delegate who spoke - and every delegate who got up to move business along (or was prepared to do so) shares responsibility for this positive development.
Today was a good day for trade unionism and for democracy. We shall need many more such days if we are to reverse the retreat and defeat of the recent past - and there is much hard work ahead.
However, I think we're allowed half an hour to be cheerful just now.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.