Thursday, 27 January 2011
Kirklees UNISON victory leads the way / D&O report
Good to bump into Paul Holmes yesterday, as I hadn't heard about their successful fight against job cuts: an eleventh hour no compulsory redundancies deal mean the union branch could call off their five day strike. This is a massive success (see Morning Star photo click to enlarge).
I won't re-post the second photo as it'll simply stroke his ego too much ;)
I must have missed the e-mail to all UNISON members celebrating this important success. If someone can send me that link, it'll be helpful...
Still, I relayed this excellent news to some of our activists at a rally last night: "If anyone tells you that balloting for industrial action doesn't make a difference, tell them what happened with Kirklees UNISON branch."
I saw Paul at UNISON HQ because I'd just walked out of a 'D&O committee' meeting (Development and Organisation) .
Flocking to join UNISON - but then what?
We heard a detailed report over annual recruitment figures, which as to be expected and hoped, are up again. In fact, other than 2006, when we won 20,000 new members alone during the national dispute over pensions, 2010 was out best year for new members (163,000). The obvious lesson there, as Jon Rogers immediately pointed out, is to stop sitting on our hands and fight the current attacks on our pensions and we'd increase membership growth further still.
Quite right too - and I've always maintained that rather than only see the current Tory onslaught on our welfare state as a 'challenge' (which of course it is), we must also see it as an organizing opportunity - and so a motion was amended to this effect, I'm glad to say. Now is our time, as Dave says, so let's rise to the challenge and follow the lead of some other unions who are trying to coordinate some kind of resistance.
Five, three or two years, max?
A contentious part of the D&O was when discussing Rule I investigations: what time limit on suspension from holding office as a sanction should there be?
Last year's shocking news that Caroline Bedale was suspended for eight years (which would have take her past retirement, but was reduced to five on appeal) led to a rule change motion at NDC 2010, calling for a maximum of two years. The NEC opposed, and it was narrowly lost after a re-count (approx 65% voted for, but you need a two thirds majority at conference).
The good news is the new D&O committee has listened and now agrees there should be a time limit - but it should be five years. Another NEC member (guess who) and I welcomed this proposed capping but we argued three years would be plenty.
After all, how many employers can threaten you with a maximum sanction of more than two years on a final warning? Unfortunately we lost the vote by two to ... everybody else. Oh well, five years is better than indefinitely. It'll now have to go to the NEC and then NDC, of course.
New UNISON website
More exciting news from the D&O committee: expect a summer launch of a new, all singing all dancing UNISON website. Will there be an iPhone App as one member asked? I hope so. Someone at the Morning Star should commission one too, by the way.
As my (dwindling) supporters will agree, I spend far too much time online already so this new website might be a bad thing for me ... but I was first to jump in on this debate. Although we could be tempted to use a new 'extranet' facility if they can provide this for local branches too (in phase II), but until then we would need to see a lot of improvements before we migrate our successful London Met website to a new system.
In the meantime, we're sometimes using 'Spambook', to chat online and share info in our branch, so a more secure login space would be great. Any alternative suggestions?
We need an audit of local branch websites, I suggested, and these need to be linked up into a network - an online directory - of unison branch websites and email addresses. That's what the internet should be about after all.
I enjoyed my first committee but I am now exhausted... so I won't write up my thoughts on this morning's Finance Committee other than to say: two surveyors who actually like Mabledon Place have been found! No comment.