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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2006

UNISON conference

Will UNISON fight on pensions and NHS cuts?

UNISON's ANNUAL Delegate Conference will be held in Bournemouth from 20 to 24 June, preceded by the local government and other smaller service group conferences on 18 and 19 June.



Two major issues that will be considered are pensions and the NHS. The battle to defend the local government pension scheme is now at a crucial stage. It affects every service group in the union with the exception of the health service group.

After the massive success of the strike on 28 March the union leadership has taken the pressure off the employers and the government by suspending strike action whilst talks take place. Not surprisingly, this step backwards has not resulted in any worthwhile concessions.

The government are proposing a marginal variation to protection arrangements, which would have no effect on the overwhelming majority of scheme members. Meanwhile, UNISON is to take a court case against the government over the legal basis for the proposed changes.

This strategy is fraught with dangers, not least because it risks collapsing the mood of militancy of the members, and leaves much of the issue to be resolved by a judge, and not by the members themselves.

Hopefully emergency items on the local government service group conference agenda will see endorsement for lifting the suspension of strike action and putting the matter back in the hands of the members.

Earlier this year the health service group conference voted for a campaign to defend the NHS, based on a national demonstration and industrial action. But so far the service group leadership have done little to put this policy into practice. Motion 90 on the agenda effectively puts the entire union behind this strategy and should be endorsed.

Whilst it has been rendered virtually impossible to even discuss the continued affiliation to the Labour Party at UNISON Conference, a few items critical of this link have been allowed onto the agenda. Amendment 22.03 from the Greenwich branch is one of these, stating that the government's attacks on public services "...bring in serious question the relationship between the Labour Party and the trade unions."

Socialist Party members and other supporters of the Campaign For a New Workers' Party will be raising the campaign at a conference fringe meeting and will be discussing with delegates to increase the endorsements for this important campaign.


UNISON conference fringe meetings

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Wednesday 21 June, 7.30pm, Royal Exeter Hotel (opposite the conference centre)

NHS Crisis - time for a day of action

Wednesday 21 June, lunchtime, Royal Exeter Hotel.

What way forward now to save our pensions?

Saturday 17 June, 7.30pm, Punshon Memorial Church, Exeter Road, Bournemouth (opposite the conference centre).

Meeting organised by Bromley, Knowsley and Nottingham city branches.

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In The Socialist 15 June 2006:


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS protesters on the march

NHS: Rebellion over hospital cuts


Socialist Party campaigns

Victory for 'save our school' campaign

Anger mounting at bungled police raid

Tax credit system: Millions driven into debt

Socialist question time

World Cup: Profits and prostitution


Socialist Party review

1926 general strike debate

Why the BNP gets support: Naomi Byron reviews Fair by Joy Wilkinson


International socialist news and analysis

Stop Bush & Blair's terror

International students' movements and working class struggles

Palestinian authority on the brink of civil war?


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference a distinctive voice in the British trade union movement

Will UNISON fight on pensions and NHS cuts?

Higher Education pay deal: Opportunities lost - further action can get more


 

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