Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cock-up not conspiracy!

Your blogger has it on the highest authority that cock-up rather than conspiracy accounts for the unfortunate coincidence which has seen the UNISON Online Conference System (OCS) unable to accept Emergency Motions to Local Government Conference just at the point at which the majority of members of that Service Group have been sold out by the dismal shower who were in the majority at the last meeting of the National Joint Council (NJC) Committee.

The NJC Committee broke agreed Service Group Conference policy by accepting a pay offer which the membership had rejected in a consultation exercise.

‎Regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Trotwatcher - one of whom may have had more time on her hands in recent months) will not be shocked to learn that the Lambeth branch have agreed an Emergency Motion to Local Government Conference censuring the NJC Committee.

Thus far the branch cannot submit this Emergency Motion through the only permissible (online) route because the OCS does not offer users the option to submit Emergency Motions to the Local Government Conference. This failure could - and may yet - lead to an Emergency Motion to National Delegate Conference (which the OCS appeared willing to permit earlier today).

However, I have been assured that this is cock-up rather than conspiracy and (being a generous and moderate soul) I am inclined to accept this assurance. 

Mind you.

It does make me wonder about how effectively we manage the three quarters of our members' subscriptions that we gift to the UNISON Centre and Regions.

The online branch accounting system (OLBA) together with the requirement that all branches bank with Unity Trust means that every penny of branch spending can be monitored in real time by UNISON Centre staff.

No such rigour is applied to the large majority of UNISON expenditure which is (notionally) controlled by our National Executive Council (NEC).

As an NEC member I can confirm that our NEC is not simply incapable of holding the officer machine to account for spending the bulk of our resources - it is totally unfit for purpose even to begin to try.

It's not just that high profile fiascos which have each cost us more than a million pounds (Care Connect Learning and the Three Companies Project) slipped past the NEC.

Nor is it that, whilst we boast about how we monitor the effectiveness of the small fraction of our total  expenditure we allocate to ‎Fighting Fund Organisers, we studiously ignore our inability to explain the value we get from expenditure on the great majority of our permanent employees who report to our Regional Secretaries.

What really takes the biscuit is that it is simply so plausible that "cock-up" rather than conspiracy can account for the Union threatening to deny the democratic rights of branches representing the majority of our membership to submit Emergency Motions to their Service Group Conference - and that the Union can be so comfortable with this because everybody knows that no senior employee will be held to account for this disgrace, and that a tame NEC will do nothing whatsoever to ‎try to see that anyone is held to account.

I realise that I have been far too restrained in my criticisms of the shabby mismanagement of our trade union and shall not continue to make this mistake.

From all the evidence which is in the public domain it is clear that UNISON suffers from both conspiracies and cock-ups.

Neither are acceptable and neither can be accepted.

Particularly not when they entail manipulation of a Standing Orders Committee.

Of which more.

Soon.

Update at lunchtime on 12 May - the Online Conference System (OCS) is now permitting local government branches (and other bodies) to submit Emergency Motions to Local Government Conference. I hope that activists will take advantage of this facility!

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