Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The long goodbye continues...

Today saw my penultimate (thought it may turn out to have been antepenultimate) meeting of the Development and Organisation (D&O) Committee of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) after almost fourteen years membership of that august body.

We did briefly discuss the Conference business for which we had originally set the meeting – albeit there was no need to take a view on prioritisation of Rule Amendments for debate as only three such Amendments have made it past the Standing Orders Committee this year (as regular readers of this blog, Sid and Doris Rule-Book-Anorak will be aware).

The bulk of debate concerned proposals to amend the Regulation agreed by the NEC twenty years ago which now appears as Appendix Two to the UNISON Rule Book. I’ll blog in more detail about this in due course (since it does have to go through the NEC as a whole before it is “made” in accordance with Rule) but I will observe that there was a good and full debate, leading to various amendments to the original proposals.

These are the sort of discussions which I will miss when I am no longer a member of the NEC, much as I already miss similar discussions at branch level now that I am no longer a Branch Secretary. I know that some comrades are perplexed about my decision to stand down from trade union responsibilities (not least knowing that there are these things that I will miss).

I won’t try to make my decision to resign “undefeated” (as it were) from both my branch and national positions simply into some fine point of principle, since the key motivation for me is the very positive motivation that I want to spend more time with those I love (the success, twenty years ago, of the Lambeth trade unions in defending our local Leave Code has won lifetimes of leisure shared by thousands of workers over the last two decades and I want my share).

However, I have also been influenced by the fact that there are other leaders to whom I can pass on my responsibility. In one case this is my friend and comrade Sean Fox for whom I shall be voting for the NEC (when I get my ballot paper…) Locally in Lambeth, there are a number of activists who, working together, can rise to the challenges which UNISON faces in defending our members.

It is not easy to release one’s grip on a position in our movement, realising that this means that decisions will in future be taken by others, with which one may not agree. It is hard to step back to become a spectator about matters where one was previously an actor (however marginal). It is however important to the health of our movement that long-serving activists and officials do step back.

Even General Secretaries.


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