Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The sun shone on us at UNISON's Health Conference in Harrogate

The Sun has been out in force at every Health Conference I've been to. Harrogate was no different. It was my first visit to Harrogate and it's always good to be back in Yorkshire.

The weather was the same as last year, but the climate of the conference couldn't have been more different. Last years conference came days after the three year deal came forward, a deal with some real benefits, having smashed the 2% pay cap and was one of the highest in the public sector, but all the same a deal that was well behind what our members deserved. Conference took the difficult decision to ballot our members on the deal, and our members accepted.

A year later world economies have collapsed and unemployment is ravaging lives, and it was clear that our pay this year is protected thanks to the deal, and as RPI goes negative and the Tories are calling for the deal to be unpicked, it was good to hear Alan Johnson tell the conference that the Government wouldn't bow to those demands and they would honour the deal.

The key debate of Conference was on whether UNISON looks to leave the PRB (NHS Pay Review Body) process. There are worthy principles in the debate, but my intervention focused on asking delegates to look past the passionate speakers and the rhetoric and to look to what is best for our members back in our branches, and that with what has happened in the economy any Government will be looking to hold back public spending, and then the prospect of a Tory Government bring about the prospect of dramatic cuts.

I was glad that the conference clearly voted to stick with the PRB process.

A key announcement was from Dave Prentis, announcing UNISON's new partnership with the nursing times, allowing significant discounts for our members as well as supporting each other with dedicated online space. This will really benefit UNISON's nursing membership (students, auxiliary and registered) and will really help us recruit even more within those groups.

On a personal note I was really proud of my own Branch Secretary who in moving our Branch's motion on the nursing workforce made her first conference speech and did a brilliant job.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I've Voted in UNISON's NEC Elections - Now it's your turn

After nervously checking the post all week I got my hands on my Ballot Papers this evening when I got home after a 15 hour day on the ward.

We all know how important elections are, they are an opportunity to choose our representatives and have our voice heard.

But UNISON's NEC elections are crucial as they decides who spends our money that we give the union every month (we know that money is becoming more and more difficult for many of our members as our families are hit by the recession). And it decides who speaks for you and builds your union, and whether that's about what's in the interests of us as members or in the interests of small political cliches and their revolutionary ambitions.

I've used my vote for candidates who will look after our subs, speak for us all and build a union with members at its heart.

If you're interested (because this is an instance where copying is encouraged) here's how I've voted

West Midlands
Annette Mansell-Green (Female Seat)
Eleanor Smith (Female Seat)
James Anthony (Male Seat) - yes that's me
Mary Locke (Low Paid Seat)

Health Seat
Clare Williams (General Seat)
Ann Moses (Female Seat)
Chris Sullivan (Female Seat)
Eric Roberts (Male Seat)

Black Members
June Nelson (Female Seat)
Mark Clifford (Male Seat)

Young Members (the best one!)
Lisa Waldock

Make sure you use your vote!

If you haven't yet received your ballot paper it might still be in the post - but if you haven't received it by the 21st April you should contact UNISONDirect on 0845 355 0845.