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National Conference Bournemouth 2002
Scotland Daily Briefings
Friday 21 June No 1 Briefing

MOTION 125 - Union not a federation of branches

Yesterday brought some funny decisions from a Scotland Policy perspective.

Firstly NEC members can now get up and talk about anything whether it is NEC policy or not. This is apparently because they represent the wider membership. The problem is I can't remember them asking me (a wider member) for my view.

Still, being part of a huge national union with a wide range of views, you have to expect to win some and lose some - then stick together behind the decision.

The absolute basis of that is organisation and discipline. The whole principle of trade unionism is collectivism - we can't just opt out if we don't like the decision because collectivism is the only real strength we have.

Which brings us to motion 125.

There is a danger of Conference ending on a sour note with this one. A lot will be said, a lot may be unsaid but the basic argument is covered in the Scotland position.

The union is not a federation of local organisations but a national union of local branches, who are required to adhere to national rules.

Many branches rightly have local rules for local purposes and that is fine so long as - as part of the one union - they fit the model rules.

Oppose 125

(Note: 125 was withdrawn from the agenda by the Standing Orders Committee after advice that it may prejudice current legal proceedings)

65 Combating racism - Anti Nazi League

Motion 65 brings a comprehensive proposal and action plan for Combating Racism in Local Communities.

However Amendments 65.3, 65.4, 65.5 and 65.6 all bring the annual attempt to get the union to affiliate to the Anti Nazi League.

The issue here is whether this organisation meets UNISON's tests of democracy and transparency - and specifically here, whether there are measures to ensure black leadership involvement.

The Anti- Nazi League has not met these tests, it has not provided audited accounts and does not have systems for black leadership. It is not supported by the UNISON Black Members Group.

Arguments have sometimes been made to join and change things from within, but you would need the very structures that aren't there to do that.

Support 65

Oppose Amendments 65.3, .4, .5 and .6.

Oppose 66

Support 66.1 or 66.2

A bit more on Comp K

The sentiments in this composite broadly reflect Scottish policy although the motion goes further in some areas.

The key issue of no war on Iraq was explicitly debated and backed by Scottish Council.Scottish Council also reflected an 'anti-war but not anti-response' position on September 11.

We also drew attention to the danger of a rise in racism and anti-Islamic feeling and committed ourselves to challenge that.

We did not affiliate to the Stop the War coalition but did agree to work with it. Scottish Stop the War is a broad organisation, CND led with a range of organisations and churches. The organisation in this motion does not have CND, Plaid Cymru or the SNP - folk you would normally expect in an anti-war group.

There is an issue for Scottish policy (and indeed national policy) in that we need to be satisfied that organisations we officially link to are democratic, publish audited accounts etc. This organisation, like any other, would have to pass these tests.

The first amendment tidies up the taxation issue and should be supported.

The second amendment however can cause constitutional problems and is best avoided. Like in any other issue, UNISON would have to be satisfied that the 'tests' mentioned above were met. In any case, members can of course participate without the need for a 'UNISON' stamp.

Support K.1

Oppose K.2



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