Bournemouth 2002









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National Conference Bournemouth 2002
18 - 21 June 2002
Summary of decisions with Scotland positions

1. Introduction

This summary is compiled from notes taken by the briefings team and is believed to be accurate. Please check with the UK site for the official record. On some motions there is a fuller report from the briefings team - just click on *Report

Conference was a quiet slow affair until things speeded up and got more lively on Friday afternoon. Nevertheless many important policies were set and we had time for a change to debate a number of international issues.

With about 200 motions it is obvious they are not all going to be heard, so Regions (in consultation with branches), the NEC and self organised groups agree a set of priorities. These are then grouped into subject debates.

The full text of the motions referred to below was printed in a UNISONFocus which went out to all activists. You can also download the motions and the composites from

2. Guest Speakers

Reports on significant speeches by Denis Goldberg, Dr John Reid are on this site and Janice Carandang, one of the Filipino nurses 'rescued' by UNISON, is on the UNISON UK (

3. Conference Business - Results and Scotland positions


Comp G: Elected Assemblies and Regional Government in England (Carried)
The debate on devolution for English regions has moved on and this motion outlined all the reasons why we should be backing government closer to the people. It pointed to the need to maintain effective local government mirroring the position taken in the campaign in Scotland. However this will, as it has in Scotland, throw into focus the need for resources for UNISON Regions to play a full part in the process. The motion recognised the need for the union to look at how it organises itself and provides the tools for the job.
Scottish Region policy Supported

Comp A: The Third Comprehensive Spending Review (Carried) *Report
Campaign to highlight the contribution public services make, to demand a dramatic increase investment and to warn against the threat to spending from European Monetary Union. A key element was to encourage branches to be directly involved in the campaign. An amendment criticising the National Insurance rise to boost NHS funding was lost. While Scottish policy would have preferred an income tax solution to more money for the NHS, the NI rise came close. Key contributions in this debate from Scotland's Jane Carolan and Mike Kirby.
Scottish Region policy supported the motion and opposed the amendment.

78 & 79: Care for the Elderly (Carried)
Making care of the elderly the focus for the social policy debate and calling for the Scottish model of free personal care for the rest of the UK.
Scottish Region policy Supported

77: Positively Public Campaign for Residential Care Homes (Carried)
A comprehensive motion was critical that the Positively Public Campaign had not publicised the loss of public residential homes (which it had, but never mind, this was Conference). Conference decided on a lobby of Parliament and to donate £10,000 the Residents Action Group for the Elderly. Scottish policy supported the NEC amendment because it left the door open to other joint strategies rather than just the lobby. However Conference threw out the amendment and the main motion was passed.
Scottish Region policy Supported the Motion and the Amendment.

Comp C: Integrated Public Transport (Carried)
Conference demanded more investment in buses, concessionary fares, more powers to enforce standards, protection of conditions, reduced congestion, UK bus regulation, better access and more investment.
Scottish Region policy Supported

Comp B: NHS Funding (Carried) *Report
Conference welcomed the £1billion investment in the NHS but concluded more was needed to meet the standards we want to see. Total commitment to an NHS free at the point of need and called for a campaign against any attempts to privatise the NHS. Motion pointed out the failures of private insurance schemes in Europe to protect the poor and opposed private managers in the NHS. Key contribution from Scotland's Karie Murphy.
Scottish Region policy Supported

135: Chhokar Family Campaign (Carried) *Report
Conference backed a Black Members motion, amended by Scotland, calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the case of Surjit Singh Chhokar who was murdered three years ago. The amendment also called for a public tribunal if a public inquiry could not be achieved and for donations to support the STUC appeal to help finance the Chhokar family case. In a moving speech, Scottish Region delegate Mary Crichton said that three years on "the family still don't know who was responsible for their son's death. Throughout that time they have conducted themselves with great dignity". UNISON Scotland has already donated to this campaign and has issued pledge sheets for donations from branches and Regions. If each branch gives just £20, the money needed would be raised.
Scottish Region policy Supported


Comp E: Pensions Future Provision (Carried)
Call for more co-ordination of trustees; restoration of the earnings link; seek legal redress for employees coerced into changing pension arrangements; work with Institute of Employment Rights and Pensioners Convention to get changes in law to better protect pensions; calls for UNISON members' guide to pensions and campaign for statutory rights for employee reps on all pension panels/boards.
Scottish Region policy Supported

7: Public Services (Carried) *Report
General Secretary Dave Prentis ‘named and shamed' accountancy firms who had acted as advisers on PFI as well as auditors to privateers bidding for projects as Conference called for the successful Positively Public campaign to be stepped up a gear and for a 10 year plan to rebuild public services.

The campaign will

  • openly confront the Government with evidence of private sector failures;
  • ask the political funds to pool resources for a strategic approach;
  • maximise public support;
  • help branches to build local links with users and community groups and link with other unions to bring maximum pressure to promote public services.

Conference threw out calls for a national demonstration. "If you are not going to be there, don't vote for this amendment" was the argument. Conference went with the view that other joint strategies at local and national level were the best way to progress the campaign.

Calls to impose conditions of funding on candidates were also defeated. This would have meant we could not make links with progressive forces unless they are in 100% agreement with us on everything. It could even end up with us effectively backing more than one candidate.
Scottish Region policy supported the motion and opposed the national demo call (policy is for regional action, ie a Scottish Demo) and the conditions on funding.

120: Developing a Young Members Organising Culture (Carried)
Conference backed a call to try to involve young members more via a range of issues like rotating branch officer posts.
Scottish Region policy Supported

118: Putting the members at the Centre of UNISON (Carried)
Conference backed an 8 point plan to build recruitment, membership involvement and participation. Branches should set targets for more activists and members and look at new ways of working, eg more use on the Internet while recognising not all members will have access to this particular tool. The motion was beefed up by a number of amendments which were all carried. These covered the need to give examples of best practice in branches, more support and more accessible training for activists, more work on proportionality and fair representation. Significantly Conference also backed the view that the best recruitment is done when the union takes up issues which are important to members.
Scottish Region policy supported motion and amendments

115: Organising for Recognition Across the Public Services (Carried)
Regions and service groups should work together to identify target employers to get recognition agreements. More support for activists via bargaining and organising advice with training materials and use the new right to be accompanied to build steward organisation. Significantly also a review of resource requirements. Amendment was carried calling for more organisational support for branches.
Scottish Region policy supported the motion and Amendment 1 (Amend. 2 withdrawn)

Motion 15 National Action Against Privatisation (Lost)
Conference threw out a call for a national demonstration in favour of its position for regional action (See Motion 7 above) Conference backed the view that these demos are often called for but nobody attends. It was better to have more local focussed action where members could identify with a particular issue. The amendments were withdrawn. Contribution from Mary Crichton.
Scottish Region policy opposed


Comp M: Political Fund Review (Carried unamended)
Conference censured the NEC for slow pace of consultation on political funds. NEC instructed to organise a debate and draw up consultation timetable. Work with regions to ensure widest consultation and membership participation. Give equal weight to all sides of the argument. Branches etc to give high priority.

Scottish Region policy felt criticism was unfounded as a consultation exercise is under way through March-May following the exploration of the legal and constitutional options open to the union. From the Scottish Region policy view, the amendment grounded the process in reality and recognised the history of the union's inception. It also looked at the issues as they directly affect members and addressed the changes brought by devolution, and the key issue of membership participation in the APF and its decision-making processes.

However, Conference did not agree and the amendment was narrowly lost by 495,623 to 427,080 on a card vote. The Motion was carried by 519,379 to 442,632. Both these votes show there is far from unanimity on this issue.
Scottish Region policy supported amendment and opposed the motion if the amendment was lost.

Comp L: Palestine (Carried)
Conference supported the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people; their right of return and immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli troops to the pre-1967 border. Will make these points to Israeli Government, Palestinian Authority, Foreign Office and TUC. Establish what support Palestinian Trade Unions need (via GFPTU), develop links with Palestinian unions, call on APF to promote policy in Labour Party and enter into discussions with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign re closer working relations. Amendment L.1 was withdrawn and L.2 fell.
Scottish Region policy supported

35: Equal Pay (Carried)
Continue to publicise equal pay training, branch guidance, and encourage branches to get equal pay reps and join TUC pilot to train them - as part of wider campaign.
Scottish Region policy supported

Comp D: Work-Life Balance (Carried)
Need to pursue family friendly policies, flexible working etc to benefit members. Campaign for better statutory rights for parents with resources, advice and examples to service groups, regions and branches so they can pursue policies with employers. Amendment was withdrawn
Scottish Region policy supported.

Emergency Motion 1: Racism and the BNP (Carried)
Step up campaign against racism. Call on TUC for demo in Manchester area and publicise it in Burnley, Oldham etc and support other anti-fascist activities. Support Burnley branch in measures they agree against BNP councillors. Raise with APF need for immediate measures to tackle poverty, segregation etc. Support TUC 'Respect Festival' in North West England.
Scottish Region policy supported


1. Rule B.4 Aims and Objectives (Carried)
Members, activists and staff to be treated with 'dignity and respect' - and similarly by external providers of service.
Scottish Region policy supported

2. Rule C.2.4 Unemployed Members (Carried)
Unemployed member status and rights for two years after dismissal or redundancy.
Scottish Region policy supported

3. Rule C.2.4 Unemployed Members (Lost)
Would have meant losing office if becoming unemployed during term of office.
Scottish Region policy supported

4. Rule D.1.3 Structure of Union at National Level (Carried)

Branch delegates can only attend Conference as branch delegates (ie not as NEC, Service Group rep too) and NEC etc can only attend and speak as that.
Scottish Region policy supported

5. Rule D.1.6 Shared Delegates (Fell because 6 Carried)

6. Rule D.1.6 Shared Delegates (Carried)
Previously only single delegate branches could 'share' a delegate. Now branches with more than one delegate can share one of the delegate seats to promote proportionality, fair representation etc. Opposition to this came from concerns about the size of Conference (already over 2,000) and whether, rather than creating more equality, could be used to get around it.

7. Rule D.1.7 Right to Attend and Speak (Fell because 8 not carried)

8. Rule D.1.7 Right to Attend and Speak (Not two-thirds)

Would have meant that NEC members (like branch members) could only speak for NEC policy. With this not carried it means NEC members can still come down off the platform and speak for nobody but themselves. One speaker said it would only be used in exceptional circumstances and points of principle, then proceeded to hop down off the platform on a range of issues to speak against both NEC and previous Conference policy. On this occasion this was to present 'left' views. In the past an NEC member has used this to promote anti-abortion views against policy.
Scottish Region policy supported

9. Rule D.1.10.3 Amendments to amendments to rule (Lost)
Would have meant allowing amendments to amendments to rule. Things are complicated enough without this.
Scottish Region policy opposed

10. Rule D.1.10.4 Amendments to amendments to rule (Lost)
As 9. Scottish Region policy opposed

11. Rule D.2.2 Regional Representatives (Carried)
Allows low paid woman member seat to complete term in her seat if her pay rises above the hourly rate limit - so long as not due to change of job.
No Scottish Region policy

12. Rule D.2.8 Powers (Not two thirds [Card Vote: F 517,472 A 446,879])

Would have held responsible and disciplined anyone using union funds outwith rule - would have banned from office anyone who misappropriates funds or commits fraud. Can still do this but very convoluted process.
Scottish Region policy supported

13. Withdrawn

14. Service Groups (Carried)
Water group becomes Water and Environment.

15. See 16

16. Rule D.4.1.3 (Carried)
'Members with Disabilities' becomes 'Disabled Members'.

17. Rule G.4.1.1 (Carried)
Adds 'membership Officer' to list of branch officers.

18. Rule P.17 (Lost)
Would have allowed supplementary questions on Annual Report without notice if branch not satisfied with earlier reply. Already often too much time spent on this at Conference and reason for giving notice is so the reply can be researched.

19. Schedule A.1 (Lost)
Would have created new subs bands. Conference decided to await review.
Scottish Region policy opposed


Comp J: Globalisation and International Trade (Carried)
(Motions 87,88 and 89) A comprehensive motion outlining the inequality and poverty around the world caused by the benefits of trade not being distributed fairly, using the coffee trade as an example. Calls for UK to take a lead in tackling the crisis and individuals to use their power as consumers to go for Fair Trade products. Campaign to get WTO to collaborate with ILO, assess the impact of GATS, campaign on human rights issues and name and shame transnational corporations who breach ILO regulations - and much more.
Scottish Region policy supported

65. Combatting Racism on Local Communities (Carried)
Conference believes local authorities have a major role in addressing the social deprivation that allows the BNP to incite racial hatred. Congratulates the work being done in the North West of England via the TUC and proving funding for the Coalition against racism to oppose the BNP in Oldham. Encouraged branches to get involved in local campaigns etc. Amendments calling for affiliation to the Anti Nazi league were withdrawn (looking for the main debate on 6).
Scottish Region policy supported

66. Stop the Nazis (Carried as amended)
A serious national campaign to prevent the BNP having electoral successes but the main issue was affiliation to the Anti Nazi League. The debate was 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. Black Members Group speakers made that loud and clear and Conference backed amendment to delete the affiliation issue.
Scottish Region policy supported the amendments and the amended motion.

48: Age Discrimination and Citizenship (Carried)
Young members motion called for; Lowering voting age to 16; Campaign around European Directive that outlaws discrimination on age by 2006; Campaign against other discrimination like the minimum wage rules, jobseekers allowance and Housing and Council Tax Benefits assessment.
Scottish Region policy supported

42: United Campaign for the Repeal of Anti-Trade Union Laws (Carried)
Conference agreed to affiliate to the campaign and build 'massive campaign' for a Workers' Charter. Support Institute of Employment Rights and TUC in their campaigns.
Scottish Region policy supported

8: Dignity and Respect at Work (Carried)
The campaign for quality public services delivered by directly employed public sector staff will be enhanced by promoting dignity and respect and equity at work for public sector employees. This, the tackling of discrimination and attacks on staff, to be at the forefront of the Positively Public campaign - along with confronting the two-tier workforce.
Scottish Region policy supported

Comp F: Asylum Seekers (Carried)
Campaign on defence and extension of the 1951 Geneva Convention on the rights of asylum seekers; cash benefits at income support level, and the right to work; closure of detention centres; end forced dispersal; end harassment. Support for National Assembly Against Racism's 'Speak Out Against Racism' campaign and Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers.
Scottish Region policy supported

39: Ill Health Retirement Qualifications (Carried) *Report
Members who need ill-health retirement are losing out because of over-strict rules for medical advisers. Now UNISON is to lobby MPs for changes to "allow genuinely ill members to get ill-health retirement", said Scottish Region delegate Mary Crichton. Allayed fears from Disabled members that not looking for wholesale ill-health retirements but was merely trying to address the inflexible guideline that a member would never be able to work again before their 65th birthday.
Scottish Region policy supported

38: Discrimination in Pension Schemes (Carried as amended by 38.3) *Report
Conference overwhelmingly backed a campaign to combat the Government's refusal to back full equality in pension schemes for non-married and same sex partners.
Scottish Region policy supported

34: Housing Privatisation (Carried)
Congratulated UNISON members and tenants for 'no' votes in ballots and the bear miss in Glasgow. Build on the campaign jointly with tenants and other unions. NEC amendment noted lessons had been learned for future campaigns and that current campaign had included guidance for branches facing stock transfers and on arms length companies; training programme, publicity materials, housing seminar, research and £100,000 worth of General Political Fund campaigns.
Scottish Region policy supported motion and amendment

Comp K: Stop the War (Carried as amended by K.1) *Report
Conference backed a call to explain our position to members against military action following September 11 and to join in with Stop the War demonstrations. It also called for support for members experiencing increased racism because of the war. But it overwhelmingly rejected local action by branches to mount protests 'immediately on hearing news of Iraq being attacked by the USA and Britain' (K.2).
Scottish Region policy supported K, K.1 and opposed K.2.

127: Counselling Service for lay members (Carried)
As the motion itself said, this resulted from Edinburgh's motion to last year's Conference, raising the issue of stress faced by activists. The NEC is to set up

  • a confidential independent telephone counselling service from September this year - to be evaluated and reviewed in 2003
  • a survey of activists on effects on members from stress arising out of TU duties
  • encourage activists to attend the UNISON stress management course

Scottish Region policy supported

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