Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/399/4921

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2005

UNISON conference: Fiery speeches but bland policy statements

THE SOCIALIST Party's industrial organiser, Bill Mullins, reports from UNISON's annual conference.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis gave a rousing speech to the conference:

"Like many others, I campaigned for Labour in the general election. 'Forward not back' was the slogan. What a missed opportunity! A complete absence of vision. All the things we believed in were absent, brushed under the carpet, no passion.

"Same old stuff: competition, targets, the politics of fear. ID cards, work gangs for young offenders, hoodies etc. Young people tarnished. The real hoodies are the multinationals who are making a killing from privatisation of our public services.

"I want the Warwick Agreement honoured in full...Is the government listening? No!

"Within a week of the general election Patricia Hewitt gives 3 billion to private hospitals. NHS hospitals will close if they're not competitive. The NHS has gone through 19 reorganisations in 19 years. We reject this third-term message completely. 87% of people want services kept in the public domain. I promise this government anew. We will strike across all sectors to defend pensions."

If you took Prentis at his word it would look like all hell was going to break out with UNISON preparing for battle with the Labour government. But reality has two sides. When it comes to the policies proposed by the UNISON leadership, the other side shows.

The NEC's main resolution partly reflected the anger in Dave Prentis' speech, at least as far as what to do next. It called for all the right things, pushed all the right buttons: "The need for the government to have a radical agenda to connect with people, equality, social justice, solidarity and democracy." This was all in the resolution and a policy document.

But the same leadership then rejected amendments which put concrete demands on them. But they overreached themselves once too often. Conference rejected an attempt by the leadership to welcome the Warwick Agreement.

[This was reached between New Labour and the trade union leaders just before the general election. In return for support for New Labour, various concessions were promised.]

As Socialist Party member Glenn Kelly said:

"The Warwick Agreement was no manifesto for a radical third term, it was a list of empty promises in order to buy the trade union leaders silence at the cost of millions of pounds of our members' money."

The leadership opposed Adrian O'Malley, also a member of the Socialist Party, who called for the union to campaign to bring back into the public domain those services privatised under Tory and Labour governments. He was told that this was "not realistic". But nearly half the delegates supported him in a show of hands.

Angelika Teweleit said that the link with Labour is a huge drag on the union. "In Germany this lesson is being learnt. Hundreds of trade unionists are gathering this week to launch a new workers' party."

Vicky Perrin, turning round and pointing at Prentis, demanded to know why he called for UNISON members to support Labour before the election. Yet he now condemns the same Labour government, quite rightly, for attacking public services through privatisation.

By this time the conference was waking up to the contradictions of fiery speeches and bland policy statements.

Delegates for example voted down support for the Warwick Agreement, voted to publish the voting records of all 54 UNISON-sponsored Labour MPs, against the platform's advice.

And the leadership could not directly oppose a call for a national demonstration on pensions, they knew this was going too far.

What started out as a relatively quiet conference began to partly reflect the massive anger felt by the rank and file against Blair and Brown's government.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 June 2005:

Workers and poor rise up against poverty

Sri Lanka: The struggle for survival and justice goes on

Capitalism means poverty and exploitation

CWI - who we are - what we fight for

Iraq sinks deeper into the quagmire

How can we change the world?

Fight for a socialist plan

Socialism 2005

ISR - youth on the march

The struggle for socialism in Scotland

Make Homophobia and Capitalism History!

Organising against the two-tier workforce

Labour declares war on the NHS

Fiery speeches but bland policy statements


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 June 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Unison:

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

triangleLeeds college workers protest poor pay rises

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

Labour:

triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/12/17

Haringey

Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

16/12/17

North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2