Friday, October 10, 2008

Saw something great of the bus ride home

Having spent the day in Birmingham and the West Midlands' Organise! and strategy session (combined for the first time this year) I got the bus home.

On the bus a guy started to hassle a young black lad without any reason, it was great to see someone step in to tell this guy 'to be more respectful' and then pretty much the whole bus uniting in our intolerance of racism.

In these troubled times I think these sort of events lighten the heart and restore you faith that our society is far from 'broken'!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NEC sets out our response to the economic crisis

Having discussed and developed a statement on the financial crisis at the policy committee yesterday, the NEC unanimously passed the statement today setting out our policy on behalf of the 1.4 million members we represent.

This comprehensive statement calls for ways of mitigating the worst effects of the crisis; such as a windfall tax on energy profits, protections for pension schemes (particularly investment based ones like the LGPS), and the ending of the Government's unjust public sector pay policy.

We also highlight the ways to help us out, including significant cut to interest rates, and public spending to help drive the economy (while helping support those in need as a result of the crisis).
But further than this, the NEC points to the end of neo-liberalism and the supremacy of the markets, and how we must move forward in this new era with public investment and public ownership.

As well as going to the outside world, I hope this statement provokes further discussion throughout the union on the way forward.

We will also be making sure we are fighting for our members, and have set up a project to gather intelligence on job losses. We will also need to ensure we're supporting our members in increasing financial hardship, and UNISON Welfare, our unique charity for members, will have a vital role in supporting our members, particularly with debt problems.

Our members, like all workers, are suffering. Lets make it clear that we are the ones on their side.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Not enough time to blog?

Well, I’ve been huge busy, honest, and hopefully normal service will now resume (though I’m not the most prolific blogger). Being a busy boy with the union, finding some time to be a nurse, and completing a module at Uni (including a horrendous essay) didn’t leave much time for blogging.

And I’ve had lots to blog about; TUC Congress was great this year partly because it was a little reunion with some of my fellow Cuba brigadista’s. I was also immensely proud to second the FBU’s motion on Cuba, in what was an excellent debate. A highlight though was controversy on the first day when the Unite delegation lost it’s marbles and voted for all out public sector strike over public sector pay (not only illegal but fairly unachievable calling out members who are not actually in dispute). Thankfully their delegation literally lost their card vote, so the motion fell.

Then we had Labour Party Conference, a very different one from last year. Right from the moment our delegation met the emphasis was on the importance of showing unity and how the public wouldn’t forgive the party for turning in on itself at a time like this. This message came loud and clear from the delegates throughout the week, despite what the press tried to spin. I was asked to speak (surprise, surprise) and spoke in the Citizenship and Equalities debate in support of the National Policy Forum position in favour of Votes at 16. After some great speeches I’m glad to say that this is now officially party policy, and should be in the next manifesto. I did however use the end of my speech to point out that there is plenty of time left in this Parliament to deliver Votes at 16.

As always these conferences are as much about the fringes and the receptions as anything else. At TUC there was an interesting fringe organised by Unions 21 on recruiting new members which focussed on young members. It was interesting to hear what other unions were doing, and particularly how we are seen as a model! Again on the Cuba issue, a highlight of Labour Conference was a fringe were we were addressed by two of the wives of the Miami 5 who are wrongfully detained in the US and whose families have been treated appallingly.