UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 12 September 2011

TUC: UNISON active in equalities agenda

#TUC11 The President spoke. Congress listened. There were two votes of thanks. Someone mentioned that Michael Leahy was once the youngest ever shop steward in his union at the age of 17. And that was that. Except...

Except that where debates are being cut short unless unions are listed as supporters to a motion, cutting down on other interventions in debate, it seems like a waste of valuable debating time that the congress ceremonial isn’t also cut appropriately

At least the Public Service debate had Congress’s attention. The ‘Active’ congress preview http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2011/09/all-aboard-tuc-battle-bus-destination.html  outlined the parameters of the debate, and it followed that path, with a variety of unions challenging the Neo liberal ideology that is behind the Osborne path to austerity , with examples from a variety of the services in which trade unions operate.

It would be difficult however to call it a debate - rather a reaffirmation of opposition to the cuts in services, jobs pay and pensions, to the imposition of privatisation in whatever guise, and the use of public services to make profits for the private sector, particularly in the distortion of the caring services such as elderly residential care, where making a buck is more important than providing attention.

And on to the Equalities agenda. From a UNISON perspective, Sue Highton intervened in the debate on the effect of the cuts on Women with a wide ranging contribution covering the loss of child benefits to the effects on women as workers, to the effects on women in the community as they have to cope with the withdrawal of services.

Mark Clifford led the debate on Race equality and the attacks on public services on behalf of the TUC Black workers, emphasising the valuable point that trade unions need to involve their black members, to be aware of how those members are being affected by the cuts in services and jobs and to involve them in the solutions to those problems.

UNISON also moved the LGBT conference motion on ‘LGBT rights while fighting the cuts’, emphasising that the trade union movement had to face up to the homophobia that was behind the cuts in services to the LGBT community.

Julie Robinson seconded the Disabled Members motion that drew attention to the particular problems of those with mental health issues at this particular time.

Guess what, all motions were passed.