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

Sunday, 17 June 2012

UNISON National Conference - The Highlights Guide

#undc12 A rundown of the main issues coming up at UNISON National Delegate Conference in Bournemouth from 19-22 June

Tuesday AM
This is the morning for the true conference aficionado. While some enjoy a good speech or a combative debating spat, for the true conference fanatic, there is nothing like the thrill of the First and Second Standing Orders report.

Can Clytus Williams the SOC chair maintain his record of managing to bamboozle all those who question his wisdom? Can he maintain his air of elegant sophisticated gentleman-about-town, while dealing with the challengers? Will anything put Super-Soc off his stride? Will any mere branch delegate ever win a joust with him? That’s the thrill for the conference addicts, sitting there armed with their rule books, standing orders and copy of Citrine for good measure. (And you thought that you did well to remember your credentials!)
Safe Prediction – Barring disaster such as mogadon in his coffee, Clytus will triumph again.

Then it’s on to the debate on Health and Safety - in this case the politics of health and safety, rather than the perennial question of how many safety reps it takes to change a light bulb. Take it seriously - as the song goes, you won’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and that includes a safe working environment.

Tuesday PM
Does Dave Prentis have new any tricks up his sleeve this year to astonish and astound conference? No preview tapes were available for your critic, but no doubt he will be currently rehearsing an original radical sound bite that we will all have forgotten by Friday.

After the dear leader, the nitty gritty of the NDC grind with debates on Public Services (A Good Thing - we like them and the Future of the NHS, (possibly a bad thing unless we can come up with some pesky ploys to derail the evil Lansley plan)

Wednesday AM
First real guest speaker of conference this morning in the Wives of the Miami 5. Regular conference goers should be aware that the Miami 5 are a group of Cubans detained at length in the USA on spurious charges .Their wives have become their greatest asset as supporters and this morning will speak to conference about their continuing fight.

Then we move to a debate on the economy. No doubt bankers, financiers and speculators will be roundly condemned from the podium and the speakers roundly applauded. Shouting that a capitalist did it might ease personal frustration. What matters is what we do as a union to campaign for an alternative, and it will be useful to hear whether this debate offers any new suggestions for that.

Public sector pay policy usefully follows, where the first green shoots of a fight back against a Tory imposed pay freeze have been spotted in the far North (Scottish Local Government pay claim) how do we encourage and nourish those aspirations for fair pay, and transplant them all over the union?

In this year’s element of Surprise, Surprise, there is a star turn form Paul Kenny addressing conference in his guise as the TUC president.

But is there a deeper meaning in the General Secretary of the GMB addressing a UNISON conference? Is there a hidden or not so hidden agenda? Will he be applying for the tenancy of the two spare floors in UNISON towers on Euston Rd? Paul will no doubt present his usual cheeky offering, and leave the audience with much to ruminate over for the rest of the week.

Wed PM
Yes it’s this year’s instalment of Palestine, where a decidedly small minority of Conference will again try to justify the continued oppression of the Palestinian people but right will triumph at the vote before we hit the rest of the international agenda.

Thursday starts with organising and continues with rules. A great day out for the UNISON anorak brigade, whose favourite bedtime activity remains cross linking the rules to the Code of Good Branch Practice to recognise the anomalies and rectify them (Patron Saint of this brigade remains Kevan Nelson, often imitated, never bested.)

In between conference has its say on Comp J entitled “Trade Union Representatives” but in reality a debate about strategy for dealing with problems around facility time, and on to “Defeating the Con Dems”, a grandly titled motion offering little in the way of strategic thought or inspiration on the topic.

Back to business with a debate on Pensions. Now that it’s up to the service groups to deal with negotiations on specific schemes, how do we as a union take forward our campaigning? Again, are we going to spend conference time looking back to 2011 or are we going to look forward to the future?

NDC will also be privileged this morning to be addressed by Neville Lawrence, father of Stephen Lawrence, who will speak about his battle for justice for his son. Respect people please!

Best of the Rest
Motion 33 Do Southern branches realise how very grim it is up North? Northern region will lead the debate in traditional flat caps, fags in hand while supping Noocastle Broon ale. Whippets to be left outside the hall lads ‘n lasses.

Motions 20/32 The Celtic fringe take centre stage to remind us that David Cameron is not the Prime Minister of all of the UK but merely the English regions. This is a useful warning that despite saying that we recognise devolution, we prefer to ignore the other nations and concentrate on a London-centric agenda.

Motion 49/ Comp G Let’s remind ourselves that local government services and housing are not just our concerns because we represent the people who work there, but because both are essential to the working of a decent social democracy – something the Tories forget.

Welfare reform/ Inequality /Poverty As a union we need to reflect the concerns of our members. And it is our members who face low pay, poverty wages, and benefit cuts that eat into their income.

Unlikely to be reached (unless someone thinks they deserve a Friday afternoon slot)
Motion 119 EU after the bank Crisis? Is something happening on the continent dear?
Motion 66 Public Private Partnerships- It would not be UNISON conference without this debate!
Motions 20/32 The Celtic fringe take centre stage David