Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/708/14112
Unison: Delegates gagged
A conference delegate
The Unison Higher Education sectional conference took place in Brighton on 2 March. Given that the government has launched a major attack on our pension schemes and following the massive strike on 30 November last year, you'd have thought that defending pensions would have been the key debate of the day.
Instead, the Service Group Executive (SGE) announced that the emergency motions on pensions were ruled out because they included the term "heads of agreement" which they claimed did not exist and "therefore could not be acted on!"
When the spokesperson for the standing orders committee was challenged to explain the reason in more detail, he was lost for words and said "he'd forgotten his notes".
The delegates voted virtually unanimously that they wanted the pension resolutions included. In response the chairperson suspended the conference, declaring that it would resume when delegates would vote "the right way".
After one and a half hours the conference resumed with the SOC sticking to their guns, even though the term "heads of agreement" has been used consistently within the union in the last months, including by Dave Prentis himself in his union diary in the February 2012 edition of the union newsletter In Focus.
This is clearly a spurious excuse and a slap in the face to union democracy. In reality the leaders of Unison have accepted the premise that we must pay more, work longer and get less when we retire, and are preparing to present a shoddy sell-out as some kind of achievement.
The delegates did not take this lying down, with a number of further attempts to get pensions discussed. In the end the standing orders committee allowed a half hour debate on pensions, but refused to allow a democratic vote on the motions.
Delegates then voted unanimously for a living wage campaign and a pay claim equal to inflation plus compensation for previous cuts.
This blatant attempt to gag the rank and file will not succeed, as anger builds up over this and three years of pay cuts. The left is standing candidates for the SGE to challenge the current mis-leaders and will continue to campaign for a fighting democratic union.
In The Socialist 7 March 2012:
Fighting the government's attacks
International Women's Day
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis