Saturday, May 21, 2016
More questions than answers?
UNISON Branches have until Wednesday to ask questions of the Annual Report to be presented to our Conference next month by our National Executive Council (NEC).
Thus far fewer than a dozen questions have been asked of a Report which (in line with practice over recent years) reads less like a trade union document and more like corporate puff.
In order to ask questions branches have to go online (on the Online Conference System - OCS) and give certain information, including the page and paragraph number relating to the question they wish to ask.
Only those branches which ask questions by Wednesday's deadline AND then ask supplementary questions online are permitted to raise any questions at Conference.
Since our NEC is (supposedly) accountable to our Conference it is regrettable (to put it gently) that the various mechanisms designed to discourage effective questioning of the NEC are as effective as they are.
But sometimes you have to accept that it's fair enough.
It's fair enough if the paid officials who really run the union can design an obstacle course in the way of accountability as long as they can also engineer decisions of the NEC (or Conference) which legitimate that obstacle course.
It is not acceptable (nor "fair enough") that sections of the annual report have been published without paragraph numbers.
That means that there is no way that branches can ask questions about these sections of the report.
And what topics are covered by these (un numbered) paragraphs?
Branch Funding and Financial Governance.
These are the areas of the NEC Annual Report concerning which an additional (and apparently insurmountable) obstacle has been placed in the way of UNISON members and branches seeking to hold our NEC to account.
If this is deliberate then it is both intolerable and incompetent.
If this is unintentional then it is both incompetent and intolerable.
These are the people who want to set the objectives of our union against which they want to hold our branches to account.
They can't even publish a report with properly numbered paragraphs.
Was this what decent people tolerated the suggestion that they should work with "sympathetic employers" against "hostile branches" for?
If you are a UNISON member it is up to you whether you tolerate this abuse of your trade union by some of its employees.