Sunday, July 15, 2007

TUC Delegation Meeting

Thursday afternoon after the NEC meeting was the TUC Congress delegation meeting. This is where UNISON's delegates to TUC Congress come together to decide what motions we want to be submitted to Congress on behalf of UNISON.

The TUC Delegation is made up of people from across the union with spaces for NEC, regions, self organised groups, service groups and of course the young members forum. There were about 80 people there so it's a big delegation.

The key thing to be decided was which two motions we should submit to be debated at congress (which is the TUC's version of National Delegate Conference). Motions were on Affordable Housing, Public Services and Public Sector Pay. When I first looked at the motions, submitting a motion on public sector pay seemed obvious. As the debate continued it seemed much more sensible to submit pay as an emergency motion because lots of things are going to change over the coming months. We would then be able to submit a stronger and more accurate emergency motion on public sector pay. In the debate I spoke in favour of submitting the affordable housing motion, citing young members problems getting affordable social rented housing or getting onto the property ladder.

I'm glad to say that when the vote was taken we decided to submit the motions on public services and affordable housing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

NEC meeting

Unfortunately I couldn't make the first half of the NEC meeting on Wednesday 11th because of problems getting time off work. This largely consisted reviewing this years National Delegate Conference.

The majority of the business was dealt with in the General Secretary's report, which was quite long and had discussions from the NEC in each section so this took a while.

Dave Prentis announced another first for UNISON, as the first trade union to achieve Investors in People status.

There was discussion regarding the recent flooding (my own family having been hit quite hard), it was highlighted that we must make sure people understand the role of public service workers in responding to these disasters and preventing them, and it was noted that the environment agency was loosing over a thousand jobs. The excellent advice and support to UNISON members through UNISON Welfare was highlighted.

With the single status lobby this week equal pay is as always on the agenda. It was reported at 75% of councils still haven't implemented single status and 20% haven't even started.

Pensions continues to be a big issue, with the Local Government Service Group balloting members at the moment. Issues around how the schemes are run have come to light in all of the attention that the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has had in recent years. Basically members money is in the hands of employers who don#t always use their money to their best interests as well as investing in an unethical way. This is something that the union is paying more attention to over the coming year and I know is going to be discussed in the forthcoming issue of Next Generation our young members magazine.

It was also reported by Karen Jennings (Head of Health) that there has been huge difficulties getting a suitable venue in London for the NHS demo for the 13th October. In order to get a better venue the NEC supported a short delay but this should mean we have a bigger impact on the day. I was glad to speak in support of this.

With the 'pay restraint' of 2% forcing below inflation increases in pay offers across the public sector, this continues to be a key issue for UNISON. Dave Prentis reported that he is chairing a meeting of the public sector unions next week to look at co-operation in the fight for fair pay deals.

It was particularly nice to here the General Secretary praise the Northern Ireland Regional Young Members Forum on their community work around suicide. This is great and important work and it was good to have that recognised by the General Secretary.

It was a good first meeting and I hope you've found this blog useful

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Labour Link Forum

I've just got back home after UNISON's Labour Link Forum, where I was a delegate on behalf of the National Young Members Forum.

We were supposed start off with Hilary Benn as our Key note speaker, but unfortunately as the new Environment Secretary (and Sheffield MP) he was busy dealing with the devastating floods across Yorkshire. We had the last minute replacement of Hazel Blears, who is now in a key position for UNISON as Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities.
Hazel also has ties with UNISON having been a branch secretary and chair in NALGO, one of our founding unions. She said some good things about listening to staff and always comes across as a decent politician when you see her in person (though we obviously have some significant political differences). On equal pay she was clearly overwhelmed by the underfunding of single status for local government, I hope that she will be able to tackle this issue which is so vital for our local government members.
I moved a motion which the National Young Members Forum had submitted on Young People and Labour. The motion sets out UNISON's support for reforming Young Labour and the key principles that this reform should take; UNISON's continued support for Young Labour and Labour Students (with the possibility of funding a full time Youth Officer for the Labour Party); and a commitment for Labour Link to work with UNISON's Young Members Forums to engage more of our young members in Labour Link and the Labour Party. I am glad to say that this passed unanimously and I look forward to working with Labour Link and young APF levy payers on delivering this policy.

It was a good event, with a relaxed atmosphere which meant it was easy to get to know other delegates. It was disappointing that there were not many young members there, with just our current NYMF chair Anne True the only young member there as a voting delegate. Hopefully the work on engaging young members in Labour Link will mean that this improves in future years.