Wednesday, October 12, 2016
General Secretary's report to the UNISON NEC meeting today
Today’s meeting of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) began, following the normal introductions from our new President, with the report from our General Secretary Dave Prentis.
In a wide ranging report Dave began with a tribute to Kirklees College UNISON Convenor Dave Ellis, whose sudden and untimely death has left such a hole in our organisation. Dave (P) described Dave (E) as “the heart and soul of this Union”, a view subsequently echoed by Dave (E)’s Branch Secretary, my NEC comrade Paul Holmes.
Dave went on to advise that UNISON was awaiting a request from the Disasters Emergency Committee before making an official donation to meet the needs of those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. At the suggestion of the General Secretary the NEC delegated authority to the Presidential Team to make a donation when the request is received.
Our General Secretary reported on UNISON’s support for a Day of Action in defence of striking South Korean trade unionists today – including a protest at the South Korean embassy which was attended on behalf of the NEC by the Chair of our International Committee. He went on to refer to a film which is being produced to mark the involvement of UK unions in the anti-apartheid struggle and our current support for Playfair Qatar, as well as encouraging UNISON branches to affiliate to Justice for Colombia in the light of the outcome of the recent plebiscite on a peace deal which, had it not been rejected, would have ended decades of violence.
Noting that UNISON’s major “public service champions” campaign would be the subject of a separate report later in the meeting (of which, more later) Dave noted that UNISON was supporting WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) pledging that he personally would work alongside Gloria Mills to promote this campaign. The General Secretary also reminded the NEC that UNISON supports the call for a public inquiry into the police violence against striking miners at Orgreave in 1984 as we had always support the Hillsborough families.
Moving on to other domestic political issues, the General Secretary commented upon the worrying implications of the outcome of the Referendum campaign – including indications of a loss of £66 billion in annual tax revenues (which threatens further public sector spending cuts) and the increase in racism since June.
Dave then ran through the list of current UNISON industrial action, including in particular the Derby and Durham teaching assistant disputes, the dispute in Scottish Further Education and the heroic action of three school cleaners in Wakefield. He also reported on UNISON’s interventions at the TUC and Labour Party Conferences, the campaign being waged to enforce the minimum wage by our Haringey Branch and our latest success in the holiday pay case against British Gas.
Responding to questions, the General Secretary confirmed that UNISON had supported Jeremy Corbyn’s successful campaign to be re-elected as Leader of the Labour Party and outlined the work underway to respond to Government proposals for further restrictions to “exit payments” in the public sector. Because the NEC had not met since June a great deal had happened concerning which there had been no contemporaneous reports to the NEC, and one NEC member wisely suggested that it was wrong for us to have dispensed with our July meeting.
Since the General Secretary’s report took us all the way to the tea break, your blogger will also now take a break.