I'm thankful to Karen Reissmann for her comprehensive reports. I will try to add my own comments on the recent NEC and the issues touched on here myself:
Report from Unison NEC Dec 5th 2012
1) We were informed that the case against four Unison activists
which last NEC voted (on a split vote) to take to court of appeal
despite huge cost has been dropped by Unison who appear to now have
accepted that they acted illegally in banning them from office. The
Presidential team have reversed the decision of the Unison
disciplinary panel to ban Brian Debus and lifted it with immediate
affect. Points were raised about how to avoid acting illegally again
– increased training for panels, review of legal advice, immediate
reinstatement of all those suspended from office.
2) Unison finances – balanced budget for this year expected despite
falling membership income. Much tighter budgets, may affect our
ability to ballot members in future.
3) Pensions – draft bill going through parliament. Unison looking to
members of House of Lords to put amendments. Question asked about
campaign against the increased state retirement age but no reply
4) Pay – Noted successes of Living wage campaigns. Now in third year
of pay freeze and members increased impoverished. Separate campaigns
planned for local gov, NHS and schools on pay with argument put that
we cannot coordinate across sectors but should coordinate with other
unions within sectors. Some discussion about the impact of pension
dispute sell-out (seen by some on NEC as quite successful) on both
members and activists confidence and belief in the union's
commitment to a serious battle. Aim is to start pay campaign using
TUC to coordinate but in NHS this appears to be agreeing to cuts in
national pay to protect national pay agreement and hoping those who
wanted to do these cuts outside of agreement will be happy to stay
in if national deal is cut in same way they wanted to do locally. So
as long as we all take cuts its OK!
5) Campaigning. Celebrated turnout on Oct 20th 170,000 London, 30,00
Scotland and 15-20,000 in Belfast. Austerity not working but now
likely to continue another 5 years, more jobs being cut all the
time. Decision now to move to regional campaigning rather than
national campaigning with meeting with regional secretaries next
week to see what they feel they can do. Local campaigning “where we
have the most influence”. Some discussion about isolated fights
taking place in almost every branch now and need for nation
co-ordination. TUC some comments from all that TUC needs to change
to become campaigning body. Unison has asked them to prioritise
poverty, tax evasion and PFI mark 2. Unison has provided some
support to UK uncut with research on tax evasion and avoidance.
6) Recruitment . Figures show recruitment down. Less people joining,
more people leaving with one huge exception of Oct and Nov 2011.
Despite campaign of most serious fight I remember in Unison's
history being best recruitment tool ever, this was not strategy
adopted. NEC agreed to make recruitment our top priority. Big push -
“Your union needs you”. Lots of discussion, some disagreement from
some of us who felt prioritize should be defending members and the
better we are at this, the better we recruit.
7) European week of action. Originally Oct demo as to be in their
week but dates had been changed. London demo was biggest supported
activity across Europe. Next week is in March and aim is to
coordinate activity with them – maybe lobby or rally?.
8) Fighting the Far right. Excellent report explicitly naming BNP,
NF, EDL, SDL, or WDL membership as incompatible with Unison
membership. Any concerns over individuals to be referred to regions.
9) Access to meeting. One member of NEC cannot access the room used
for the NEC meetings. Despite the fact there is an alternative room
on the ground floor which is accessible, there has been a consistent
refusal to use it for NEC (except on the occasion when there was a
leak in the normal room). Instead the member has been offered a room
on his own where he can access using a video link although he cannot
see the NEC members (only the chair) and they cannot see him. Some
of us consider this “disability apartheid” and a disgrace and have
insisted on using this room with video link with him in solidarity.
Many of us remain deeply unhappy with this arrangement which we view
as clearly discriminatory.
Any questions on this report or if you want me to come to your
meeting to explain further please get in touch