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

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Report on Defending TU facilities fringe‏

#undc12 A well attended fringe meeting on 'making the case for facility time' was held during today's lunch break. Speakers were John Healey MP, Martin Mitchell Researcher NatCen Social Research, Joanne Cain - UNISON. Chaired by Jane Carolan - NEC

UNISON has produced a report on the 'value of trade union facility time'

MM- tax payers alliance report prompted public interest into facility time. Independent study commissioned by UNISON from NatCen. The aims of the study were - Value, map and best practice on facility time.
ready made framework for meaningful consultation and representation.
Partnership working leading to good workplace relations.
Preventing escalation of staffing problems informally.
Better communication of Mgt of change and negative impacts. The report will be published next week.

JH- biggest threat to TU's. It's an attack my the right wing politicians and the tax payers A. It's not about cost it's about attacking TU's as is from the MT text book. It's to break up public sector organisation and then public services. Regional pay is a first step towards localised bargaining as its easier without good TU organisation. We can win this campaign by stepping up our support for workplace reps. Practical assistance. Show the benefits as well as costs to workplace reps. Have good independent research. Make the counter case to the Tories in public and parliament. Back in March MP's voted down the attack on TU's and the 200,000 TU workplace reps in this country. We are unsung hero's of volunteering and the workplace wing of big society. Big companies that recognise the benefits of workplace reps and allow time off to carry out that work. Employers should pay towards that cost as they benefit from their presence. The government are currently consulting on Time Off for Trade Union Duties. Some changes won't even require legislation changes just guidance.

JC- Swindon Case
Political attack on a medium sized branch in a Council and we had 1 FTE secondment shared by two TU activists. The Tory run Council decided to get rid of that post. They said whilst they supported trade unions that tax payers shouldn't pay for TU officials when services are cut. They requested UNISON pay for that post. We need to make those arguments before we face attacks. We looked at the law in the immediate future but we knew this wouldn't protect us longer term. It was interesting to try and unpick law- need to look at public consultation and equality duties, speaking up for more women than wider workforce and equality concerns for all staff. That was more effective than the Trade Union Laws. We also needed a robust campaign which has been difficult as we're not good at protecting ourselves.

Campaign to save TU reps
Can't go out and ask public about facility time or trade union laws. We had a good rally at e Council Meeting. Media was asking why we were campaigning for just one job our own! We spoke about it as it was the voice of the workforce- speaking up for low paid workers and those doing the jobs. They tried to look at costs and what this means to services - we counteracted that with Councillors expenses and consultants. Reminded the public lessons of hard pressed tax payers as we are the tax payers locally. We mobilised all the trade unions locally and informed the National union. We lobbied the Council Leader. Pointed out the political adviser paid for by the tax payer rather than the political party themselves. It was hard to mobiles the members!!

They find it hard to understand the value of our secondments and facilities time. The campaign continues, expect decision by the end of the month. We learned that it all comes down to organising. They talked about our density, outsourced services. It also raised the issue around facility agreements and ensuring that it is robust and written down. Need to be better about protecting ourselves. Our ability to protect members depends on it.

Angie Rayner