The special conference was called following an initiative from the North West Region of UNISON after the fiasco of last year's pay dispute. The strike was called off, with Local Government Trade unions accepting a worse deal than what had previously been on the table.The mood of activists is clearly such that they have had enough of the leadership’s attempts to blame the membership for an unwillingness to fight and to accept continued pay restraint. There is a glaring need for a determined and confident lead to be given over pay.
Members are also questioning the union's relationship with the Labour Party and it’s influence on our internal affairs. The union leaders’ strategy to give a Labour government, if elected, breathing space of a year against any new local government pay claim was defeated by conference delegates.An amendment to a motion on the decision to cancel strike action for 14th October last year ensured "at least one" lay member would be present at future talks with the employers.
The conference passed a motion branding senior officers’ decision to cancel the strike a “complete denial” of union protocols.It was a victory for rank and file democracy. It will remain to be seen if the leadership carries out the decisions of conference – activists will have to keep up the pressure.
The special conference should now be a platform to transform UNISON into a fighting, democratic union. All UNISON members and activists should be encouraged by it to make a determined effort to get the 'Reclaim the Union' slate of left-wing candidates elected in the forthcoming UNISON NEC elections that start on 7th April.
UNISON Left slate: http://reclaimtheunion.blogspot.co.uk/
Official (downbeat) report: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/local-government-delegates-agree-to-continue-campaign-for-fair-pay
Morning star report: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-efe7-Unison-members-slam-decision-to-accept-pay-deal/#.VRceedhyZHh