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Scotland in UNISON




UNISONScotland positions on all the main issues

Lilian Macer Mike Kirby
Lilian Macer
Mike Kirby

Regional Delegates to National Delegate Conference, Convener Mike Kirby and Depute Convener Lilian Macer, preview the main debates at National Delegate Conference.

Branches, Regions, Self Organized Groups, Retired and Young members and the National Executive Council (NEC), submitted over 130 motions and associated amendments to the conference agenda.

The experience of recent years is that conference will manage to discuss no more than thirty or so of these motions, many of which will find themselves in composites agreed by the bodies submitting the original motions.

If your favourite is not discussed below, it is unlikely to be debated first time around and the only alternative will be in the reprioritisation exercise.

This will take place onWednesday evening/Thursday morning, for Friday afternoon business. The Standing Orders Committee (SOC) has balloted Regions, the NEC, Self Organised Groups, National Young Members' Forum and the National Retired Members' Committee on what motions should be prioritised for debate at the Conference.

The Scottish Council meeting in April agreed Scotland’s priorities. All but three of Scotland’s priorities are likely to be debated.

Recruiting & Organising Comp A (1,4) 2

Motions 1 & 4 (Composite A) welcome the recent growth in membership, look for a coherent and coordinated plan to market the benefits of trade union membership, and seek to dispel the myths surrounding migrant workers.

As we are in a period of economic recession when public services will come under attack, the time to organize is now. Motion 2 recognises the importance of supportive training for activists.

Improved Representation - 5

The important place of young members in the organization, for now and the future is discussed in Motion 5, submitted by the young members’ forum.

Lay Structures

Conference in 2005 and 2007 overwhelmingly approved reports which recognized the need to make UNISON structures, the product of merger negotiations in 1993, more fit for purpose in the changing face of public services. This report on implementing previous decisions is a preface for a number of rule changes. It seeks to make the rule book less proscriptive, more enabling in the face of constant change, to facilitate different ways of organising, while safeguarding lay oversight and control of the bargaining machinery.

The Scottish Committee has supported the general direction of travel, and the specific changes, while recognizing the need to finetune to the particular circumstances in Scotland.

Collective Bargaining 14, Comp B

In time of economic recession, it is important to lay foundations for future growth. Developing our commitment to apprenticeships (Motion 14) must be done in a properly negotiated framework, within the scope if the National MinimumWage.

Hundreds of thousands of UNISON members will come within the scope of the Independent Safeguarding Authority in England &Wales, and the corresponding legislation in Scotland. Vulnerable people must have confidence in the services and those who provide them, and must be protected from those who may seek to exploit the relationship.

However, many of these services are already regulated and members pay significant fees. There are clear bargaining objectives, training and organizational objectives identified in motions 15 & 16 (Composite B).

Pensions - 21, 22, 23 Comp D

Public sector pensions have been defended successfully in recent years, but will come under ever-increasing pressure in recession. Aberdeenshire branch motion 23 is part of a likely Composite D with motions 21 &22.

The Retired Members’ Committee keeps before us the campaigning objective of restoring the link between the basic state pension and earnings in motion 64.

Reorganisation, Restructuring, Privatisation 26, Comp E (32, 49) Comp G (39, 40)

In motion 26, Northern Ireland asks beyond PFI, what is the next scam? While NEC, in motion 31, states that the current recession, caused by the greed and "irresponsibility of speculators", demonstrates once again the importance of public services.

With a higher proportion of the economy in Scotland appropriately settled in public expenditure, as provider of services and an economic lever, it is right that Scotland has a high profile in the public services debates.

In Composite F (32, 49 and amendment), Yorkshire& Humberside and Scotland join forces in declaring our opposition to cuts in public services employment.

In motion 37 we outline the challenges of the procurement model. The growing shortage of affordable housing, the links of housing policy to the economic collapse, the important place of council housing and the potential regenerative effect of building new council housing at this time are set out in Composite F (35, 36).

The identification of bargaining resources and advice to address the challenges of the Shared Services agenda are highlighted in composite G (39,40).

Economy - Comp I, Comp H and 52

Composite I of motions 50, 54 and 55 and amendments will challenge any reader but represents a comprehensive analysis of what faces public services in the next few years and how the union should meet the challenge.

Composite H (51, 53) and motion 52 warn us that a time of economic recession the most vulnerable can be at risk of discrimination and attack.

Employment Rights - 67

Legal protection for trade unionists acting as whistleblowers in expressing concern at apparent corruption or malpractice in motion 67, takes on an unusually topical air.

International - Comp J and 82

NEC member Fiona Smith and Convener Mike Kirby were members of the recent STUC delegation to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.The reports are on the STUC website and a film is on FBUtube. Their experience has informed the motion 72 and amendment on Justice for the Palestinians.

This motion will form part of a composite J (72, 74, 77, 78, 79) in expressing solidarity, condemning the incursion and slaughter in Gaza, progressing the policy of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions and seeking to review our relations with Histadrut.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, the initial perspective of the Obama administration offers the prospect of change in relations. Motion 82 seeks an end to the economic blockade and for the UK Government to normalize relations with Cuba.

Europe - 87

Motion 87 from Cymru/Wales seeks to defend social Europe, extend workers’ rights and oppose exploitation of foreign workers, evident in some recent judgments and actions by employers.

Racism - 89, 90

The racism and fascism of the far right BNP has found itself on the streets of Scotland’s cities in the European election campaign.They will seek to exploit the economic recession with their xenophobia. UNISON activists have a key role to play in countering their myths and lies (89, 90).

Asylum & Immigration - 94

Many asylum seekers are highly skilled and educated people.The asylum process must be speeded up and the rights of asylum seekers to work should be extended, argue East Midlands in motion 94.

Equalities - 96, 97, 98, 105

The current human rights framework and legislation must be developed, if we are to fully promote the awareness of discrimination on grounds of gender, faith, religion, race, age or sexuality or orientation or disability in the workplace and in UNISON (motions 96, 97, 98, 105).

Social Policy 106, 108, Comp K, 113

Motion 106 from the NEC argues that public services provide an important welfare safety net at a time of economic recession. The UK has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the industrialised world and the government is losing touch with its own targets to combat child poverty.

Motion 108 sets out some campaigning priorities and objectives for the union. The growing problem of fuel poverty, when at least 10% of disposable income is spent on fuel, is highlighted in motions 109, 111 (Composite K).

Domestic violence counts for one in six of violent incidents, and that will include UNISON members who will need support at work, states motion 113.

Environment Comp L (116,117)

City of Edinburgh branch motion 117 contributes to a review of our policy and organising objectives called for in Composite L (116,117).

Funding the Equal Pay Challenge - 125

Scotland was instrumental in motion 116 passed at 2008 conference, which set in place the union’s financial plan for resourcing the strategy to pursue equal pay and to resist the challenges from the parasitical fee-claiming lawyers. Motion 125 presents the annual review called for at that time.