Now -read the book!

Here is a link to my memoirs which, if you are a glutton for punishment, you can purchase online at
Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

UNISON local government branches - support Manchester's call for a Special Conference!

Yesterday the influential Manchester local government branch of UNISON published an appeal to UNISON local government branches to requisition a Special Local Government Conference.
For the conference to take place it requires branches representing 25% of the Service Group membership to requisition. This is what Manchester have to say;

“If your branch agrees to do this then send this email to Heather Wakefield, Head of the Local Government Service Group at
Dear Heather
I am writing on behalf of our Branch to requisition a Special Local Government Service Group Conference.
In accordance with UNISON Rule D3.4.11 on xx.xx.xx date our Branch / Branch Executive agreed unanimously to call for the requisition of a Special Local Government Service Group Conference to consider the following business:
  • The 2014-2016 NJC Pay Proposals.
  • The decision to cancel strike action on 14th October.
  • The future Pay Consultation protocols in respect of Local Government pay claims.
  • The best means to secure a decent pay increase for Local Government members and to receive and consider all motions from Branches and Regions concerning the above.
Could you then please email us at to let us know and tell us your branch name and NJC membership as of 1st January 2014 so we know when we have reached 25%.
Thank you for your support.”

This is a timely and appropriate step, asserting our trade union democracy and holding out the last hope of retaining national unity of the local government workforce.

If we can secure rejection of the pay insult from the national negotiations then the Special Conference gives us an opportunity to chart a path forward for our dispute – and if we cannot then the Conference will be an opportunity to learn from the grave errors which have been made. In either case it will be valuable (and well worth the cost – which will be the only argument advanced against it by reactionaries within UNISON).

Whilst those of us who want to see decent pay for local government workers are rightly sharply critical of the majority of the NJC Committee for caving in to pressure, and of the trade union General Secretaries for their role in this fiasco, we have to recognise that the weakness of so much of our lay (and full-time) leadership reflects the unevenness of the organisation and motivation of our activists and membership across the country.

The errors which we are now trying to correct (by securing rejection of the pay insult) were not only made on Thursday 9 October, but over a longer period of time (over we did not organise or motivate members consistently or sufficiently).

The Special Conference needs to be a forum for an honest, serious and comradely debate about the future of our national trade union in its largest service group.

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