Thursday, March 19, 2015
When is a motion also a Number Two?
There is, I suppose, a sense in which a “motion” which is “number two” in order of prioritisation may be considered to the same thing twice.
An unkind person (unlike your blogger) might make this observation about Motion 44 on the agenda for UNISON’s Special Local Government Conference (titled “NJC Pay Campaign 2016” and proposed by the National Joint Council (NJC) Committee).
It’s not so much that this motion is a risible attempt to look away from the whole purpose of the Special Conference (made on behalf of the very lay body, the majority of whose inability to show the leadership they were elected for, has led us to the Conference itself).
It is, of course, pitiable, that the body, the majority of whom were accountable (if not responsible) for the catastrophic misleadership of the 2014 pay campaign, should put – to the Conference convened to address their failings – a motion dealing only with the 2016 campaign.
It is, also, embarrassing to find oneself in a trade union in which an important national Committee think it appropriate to put a motion to Conference which does nothing other than report on things which they have done since they comprehensively sabotaged our last pay campaign.
But, as I say, it is not so much these reprehensible features of a deplorable motion submitted by the apparently shameless to which I wish to draw your attention.
No, I fear I must voice some criticism of the work of a generally fine Committee of which I was once a member, the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for our Local Government Conference. I struggle to understand why the SOC admitted to our Conference agenda a motion written with such incompetence as would embarrass a first time drafter of a Conference motion.
If there were a simple course on how to write a UNISON Conference motion it would include the guidance that a motion for Conference should state what it is that “Conference notes”, what it is that “Conference believes” and what it is that “Conference resolves.” The author of Motion 44 missed that.
The motion starts by telling Conference what the NJC Committee believes should be the outcome of the Conference. Fascinating (or not). But also irrelevant and incompetent.
It then tells us four things that the NJC Committee notes (and another that it “further notes”) before informing the reader of two things which the NJC Committee agreed last November (one of which was a paper, about which the motion tells us no less than nine things).
The motion then “further notes” two pieces of information about another meeting of that Committee in January before telling us that the NJC Committee calls upon the Service Group Executive to do four things.
All of this is interesting (at least to the readership of this blog even if not to the wider membership) but not a word of Motion 44 amounts to a competent motion to our Special Local Government Conference.
No wonder we are rubbish at negotiating with employers if those to whom we entrust this task are incapable of writing a proper motion to our own Conference – but why on earth did the SOC admit to the agenda a motion drafted at the Great White Elephant when, had a branch submitted such poorly drafted drivel it would have been ruled out of order?
Were Conference delegates to endorse Motion 44 (or any Composite including that Motion which did not substantially alter and advise its contents) we would be announcing that UNISON at a national level is no longer to be taken seriously by the employers, or by our members, in local government.
As to whether someone should force the SOC to justify their pusillanimous decision to admit the – plainly incompetent – Motion 44 on to our Conference agenda, I fear that all we would achieve by rubbing their noses in this particular “motion” would be to take up time we could better use debating serious motions with sensible proposals.
Finally, a special note for some enthusiastic readers at national and Regional level. The criticisms of the NJC Committee and the SOC in this blog post, and other criticisms of UNISON officials and Committees in relation to the Special Conference (and for that matter, other Conferences) are all allegations that those criticised have breached UNISON Rules (Rule B.1.4 and Rule B.2.2 for example).