A large part of the NEC business was concerned again with National Delegate Conference (NDC) business. We received reports from Strategic Committee (NEC subcommittees) Chairs on the current policy recommendations from these sub committees to the full NEC meeting on motions, amendments to motions and amendments to rule.The dealing with of NEC policy on motions etc. was made more difficult as the NEC currently sits in two rooms with the bulk sitting on the 9th floor and other members sitting in an upper ground floor room made available to a disabled member who has access issues and those joining the member in solidarity, who participate by video link. Members in one room are unable to see fellow NEC members in the other.
There was an emergency motion on the outcome of the General election from Development and Organisation subcommittee of NEC which had become Composite A to NDC. This proposed an organising response to Government attacks. In relation to the threat to collection of union subs by DOCAS (Deduction of Contributions at source) under Tory proposals, Dave Prentis, General Secretary said that we should not wait for legislation to be carried but we should not ‘push the button’ now. Direct debit was not a panacea. Members sometimes did not tell us when they went up through the subs bands. Concern was expressed from the North West NEC members (after similar concern was expressed at the prior North West Regional Council of UNISON) that should we be just moving to Direct Debit without a fight on the issue? The Tories had published their intentions in relation to Trade Union ‘reform’ so we would not be putting ideas in their heads. Paul Holmes, UNISON NEC member made a good point that we should be having a political argument in public over this – why is the Government doing this? The DOCAS arrangements had been in place since before the 2nd World War. In politics there was a fine line between being prepared and encouraging the other side.Dave Prentis in his General Secretary’s report referred to the 42 bills in the Queens’ speech a few days earlier – quite a few affected our members.
Dave said the ‘the job of the union to a large part is to resist’. There needed to be ‘militant action’.The discussion went back to Composite A. A proposed amendment by the North West NEC members to lobby parliament when the Trade Union reform bill was being discussed was voted down by the majority on the NEC. Also opposed was an amendment from North West NEC members calling for a lobby of the Tory party conference in the Autumn. It was later qualified that these protests would be supported (though presumably not led) by the union. A proposal to write to all members as part of a recruitment drive for stewards was also rejected.
Many North West UNISON members rightly see the presence of the Tory party conference in our Region as an affront.Bernie Gallagher, North West UNISON NEC member asked that information be sent out to branches quickly regarding the anti-austerity demo in London on 20th June 2015.
Discussion returned to the General Secretary’s report – Dave said there were disputes in schools around changes to terms and conditions and schools were one of biggest growth areas. We needed to raise our game on Industrial Action ballots and ‘we are a union that seeks to take Industrial Action’. We would fight proposed Tory measures regarding Trade unions ‘all the way to the U.N and ILO’ (International Labour Organisation). We would take national Industrial Action if need be over the threat to unsocial hours payments in the NHS. Dave referred again to the dispute in Barnet Council and the need to support also the struggle of the Glasgow Homeless caseworkers fighting downgradings and changes to terms and conditions. Helen Davies, UNISON NEC member and from Barnet branch thanked Dave for the support. 8th July was a possible future strike date. Jon Rogers, NEC member London Region referred to the need to support these local disputes that were however of national significance including the dispute at London Metropolitan University over cuts proposals. These branches were at the sharp end.An upcoming 25% cut to further education had already led to 4 colleges closing down Trade Union education units. Budgets may need to be reviewed to support Stewards education and there will be an increase in Fighting fund organisers to get support to branches on the front line.
The decisions taken at the Local Government special conference were in the process of being actioned and the General Secretary undertook to come back to the NEC on the non-payment of the Local Government pay rise to transferred health workers.