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Unison conference: Delegates Back Privatisation Battle
UNISON LOCAL government conference, meeting for two days before the main UNISON conference, saw the leadership overturned five times in the first four hours.
Delegates treated with derision the leadership's claim that they have real influence with Tony Blair.
By a vote of 380,000 to 290,000, they voted to condemn the so-called deal between the government and UNISON to review the whole privatisation process.
The platform had claimed that they had 'access to number 10' but Simon Donovan from Waltham Forest said: "The leadership have no national strategy or policy to defeat privatisation. They leave us at local level to fight alone."
In another well-received speech, Roger Bannister hammered the executive for opposing national industrial action against privatisation, on 'legal grounds'. "We have co-ordinated national action over pay across 400 employers. This is not a case of action being illegal but of the unwillingness of the leadership to act." To widespread applause he finished by saying "Where there's a will there's a way."
Angie Waller of Kirklees, who had moved the main resolution on national action to defeat privatisation, gave examples of how PFI is wrecking schools and children's education. "The roof was blown off one of the PFI schools in Huddersfield, it's no wonder we're opposing privatisation."
Julie Thompson, also of Kirklees, defeated the platform when she successfully called for a national conference and a national demo of school support staff. "Our members are fed up signing on in the holidays, they want action now."
Other Socialist Party speakers included Nancy Taaffe, Brian Blake, Brian Debus and Onay Kasab.
At a packed fringe meeting on the political fund and New Labour, Dave Nellist, speaking on behalf of the Socialist Party, called for the unions to build a new mass workers' party and in the process begin breaking with New Labour.
He was opposed by Liz Davies, for the Socialist Alliance, who called for the union's fund to be democratised but wouldn't support disaffiliation.
Geoff Martin, London UNISON, said that they should maintain the link but cutback on the amount UNISON gives to Labour.
See next week's The Socialist for a full report.
In The Socialist 21 June 2002: