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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 June 2007

UNISON local government conference

Leadership get a roasting from angry delegates

UNISON local government conference erupted in rebellion against the leadership as soon as it opened. Delegates voted against accepting the idea that they couldn't debate the new pensions agreement which had been reached two days before the conference began.

Bill Mullins

The leadership tried to argue that as the deal was to be put to a ballot, with a recommendation to accept, there was nothing more the conference could do. But the deal is a lot worse than other public-sector workers have managed to get.

This "advice" that the deal cannot be debated has been rejected twice in two days but it hasn't stopped the leadership still trying to argue that it cannot be debated.

But it was the pay debate which really angered delegates. The government offer of 2% has been rejected twice in consultative ballots.

Socialist Party members played a key role in the debate. Onay Kasab, from the Greenwich branch accused the pay negotiators of selling out the membership. "When does a bad offer become a good one? Answer - when the leadership say it is!" he declared.

Roger Bannister moved an amendment calling on the union to go straight to a ballot for industrial action: "Another consultative ballot would lead to further confusion. The offer has been rejected twice since April. The members don't want a ballot about a ballot for an offer they've already kicked out."

Glenn Kelly told the conference that his Tory council in Bromley had put aside 3% for the pay increase. But at the insistence of Gordon Brown they had reduced this to 2%, saving 700,000 in the process.

Both Mark Evans from Carmarthenshire and Marc Glasscoe from Lincoln, pointed out that any delay gives the employer the upper hand. "Weakness invites aggression," said Marc Glasscoe.

The amendment moved by Roger Bannister was finally carried by a card vote. Then the leadership called for a vote against their own resolution, as amended. They called for support for a motion from Tower Hamlets, which called for a consultative ballot. The leadership won this vote.

In the second big debate, on pensions, Onay Kasab said that if the pensions strike in 2005 was the biggest since the 1926 general strike, as UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis had claimed, then what has happened since was the biggest sell-out since 1926.

The third major debate of the two-day conference was on the issue of school staff. The leadership is proposing to remove 250,000 school staff from local government pay and conditions negotiations.

Again, Socialist Party members led the charge against this. Glenn Kelly, Jim Thompson, Roger Bannister and April Ashley spoke against these proposals. They all spelt out the lessons from the splitting off of staff in further education colleges. Most of these workers have ended up worse off than when they were part of the council workforce.

The main UNISON conference, when local government workers will be joined by delegates from health and other groups, also promises to have some heated debates.

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In The Socialist 21 June 2007:

New PM... same old Bosses' agenda

Brown stresses 'continuity' with Blair

Manchester council swings the axe

Workplace news

Postal and post office workers demand action

National shop stewards' network

Workers must fight Ford sell-off plans

UNISON Leadership get a roasting from angry delegates

No UNISON witch-hunt!

Greenwich UNISON wins concessions

NUT miss opportunity on pay

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Stop Hatchet Hewitt's NHS plans now

Blood centre workers fight job cuts plan

Socialist Party news and analysis

Something for everyone at the summer camp

How Cadbury's keeps shareholders sweet...

Arise... Sir Stephen who?

War and terrorism

Withdraw occupation troops!

Palestinian infighting blows apart 'national unity' government

Socialist students and ISR

Have Scottish students got free education?

Eye-witness from the G8

Why you should join ISR

Workplace news and analysis

Deskilling and destaffing - Tube bosses' dream

PCS leadership recommends new deal to members

Global Warming

Turning the tide for alternative energy

International socialist news

South Africa - third week for public-sector strike


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