Friday, June 17, 2016

UNISON Rule H.4.1

This is a blog for readers (Sid and Doris Blogger) who are interested in a blog post with a title like the title of this blog post.

If you don't want to know more about UNISON Rule H.4.1‎ (or to have the surprise of what will happen in Brighton next Wednesday morning spoilt in any way) then look away now.

Rule H.4.1 makes clear that the essential formula for the funding of branches is to be determined by the National Delegate Conference (NDC) and not the National Executive Council (NEC).

This allocation of responsibility is a vital underpinning of democracy and lay member control in UNISON.

(Before I write another word let me be clear that nothing that I say in this blog post should be construed in any way as a criticism of any UNISON employee!)

National Delegate Conference is (at least occasionally) beyond the control of the senior full-time officials who control the trade union.

The same could hardly be said of the National Executive Council (NEC). In my thirteen years on the NEC I have seen no evidence that it is an effective tool for holding the union machine to account.

And I have been looking!

I looked at how we appeared to have wasted a million pounds on Care Connect Learning. I asked questions. I did not see how lay members held officials to account.

I looked at how we could not account for a million pounds ‎spent on the Three Companies Project. I asked questions. I did not see how lay members held officials to account.

I have found that asking questions and voicing criticism are not a route to popularity in our trade union.

Fortunately that was not my goal. 

Therefore I can say that I know that those responsibilities which are given by our Rules to the NEC are generally not subject to effective lay oversight by that NEC.

The NEC simply isn't up to the job. If you are a UNISON member then this is your fault as you elect us.

Rule K and Rule O are fine examples of aspects of UNISON's activity which are (by virtue of the Rule Book restriction of these Rules to the NEC rather than NDC) effectively the domain of senior paid officials.

Happily Rule H.4.1 is not at all like Rule K or Rule O (nor even Rule D.2.11 - although I might be facing improper and arguably unlawful action under Rule I.2.1 for even mentioning that Rule in this context!)

Rule H.4.1 says that Conference (consisting of voting lay delegates from branches) will decide how our branches are funded. This must be by a decision of Conference, in respect of which delegates may vote for or against.

The NEC may not arrogate to itself the power of Conference by presuming to tell Conference - in a "statement" - what funding it will permit branches to have.

NEC statements to Conference can be a useful and constructive device to respond to urgent issues or to elaborate upon action which the NEC will take. They have no particular standing in Rule P (and are in that respect unlike statements of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress at Congress).

However, an NEC statement may not properly or appropriately be used to circumvent the powers give to Conference by our Rule Book.

‎I'm glad to be able to clarify this.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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