Thursday, December 10, 2015

A faltering start at the UNISON NEC

‎Here is a brief note of what transpired at the start of yesterday's meeting of UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) based in part on an update which I have already sent by email to UNISON Branches in the Greater London Region (following a request from a fellow Branch Secretary).

I will circulate - and then blog - a fuller report shortly.

On arrival at the UNISON Centre yesterday NEC members met some small yellow barriers (normally employed I imagine to alert staff to spillages or misbehaviour by the Centre's legendary lifts) which blocked part of the entrance.

The other part of the entrance was being stewarded by several security staff, apparently in response to a modest but vocal lobby of UNISON members from several London branches supporting the proposal (about which I shall blog separately) that there should be an independent investigation into the matters about which you can read on the most-read post on this blog (or, as I now understand, in Private Eye).

Several of my friends and colleagues on the NEC were prevented for some time from entering their own Headquarters building because security guards would not accept UNISON Centre passes (not bearing a photograph) as evidence of identity (until a sensible senior official became aware of what was happening and intervened).

This was not the first time that I had seen such a silly overreaction, the purpose of which was not - of course - to protect from a non-existent threat (the Branch Secretary who organised the lobby had written most courteously and appropriately to the President in advance.

The purpose of such a stunt is plainly to create the impression on the part of those within the building that the lobbyists are some alien force from whom they require protection, rather than trade union activists with a legitimate grievance seeking a dialogue.

Other expressions of that grievance were motions from branches which had been submitted to the NEC in the few days in which members have been aware of the events giving rise to concern.

As it turned out, the NEC, as the ruling lay body of the Union between meetings of our National Delegate Conference, decided, by a majority of 3 to 2, not to engage in dialogue about the legitimate grievances which were being expressed.

At the outset of the NEC meeting the President made a statement noting that a complaint had been made concerning the conduct of an employee, which was the subject of an investigation within UNISON which could not therefore be discussed at the NEC meeting, and that complaints had also been made to Electoral Reform Services, as the Returning Officer in the General Secretary election, which were also not appropriate for discussion at the meeting. 

She therefore proposed not to discuss those matters at all. 

Several NEC members queried this (I had myself written in advance of the meeting seeking guidance on how we could discuss whether or not the General Secretary should be suspended - and still await a response). 

A proposal was made that the meeting proceed to "next business" (in order to curtail any possibility of further discussion of these issues) and this was agreed by 32 votes to 21 (I was one of the 21).

The NEC having taken the decision not to deal with these matters it is regrettably inevitable that these will be bound to be addressed elsewhere.

I will blog further about the content of the NEC meeting in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Eric Roberts ‏@EggOnTheMoon 12 hrs12 hours ago
Let me personally state that I have complete confidence in the Regional Secretary of UNISON London Region.


Anonymous said...