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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2018

Unison union conference: delegates can't be cowed

Unison pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison pay strike, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party reporters

At Unison conference in Brighton the leadership claimed that the union is "seen as the world's leading progressive union". However, among delegates there was a clear mood that the branches have to bear the weight of all the attacks on jobs and working conditions but with fewer activists, less facility time and so on, while the union leadership has no answers.

Despite general secretary Dave Prentis claiming "we are a left union, who never backed Blair and always backed Corbyn", and giving public support to strikes in Wigan and Birmingham, he suffered a personal defeat when he failed to get a major review of the union structures through conference. The conference didn't trust what the leadership was up to and saw it as a money and power grab of the branch funds and union democracy.

Delegates felt strongly that union resources need to be put on the front line where the fight is and not soaked up in the jobs and wages of increasing numbers of unelected full-time officials, who more often than not 'police' the membership.

Despite the vote clearly being lost, the vice-president called it carried and then tried to deny a card vote. The conference erupted and chanted "card vote, card vote" until he relented. Delegates overwhelmingly defeated the motion.

At the end of the conference it was announced the same person had just been elected by the national executive to be next year's president. Spontaneously a chant went up: "card vote, card vote"!

Once again, the conference was sanitised by the standing orders committee which managed to keep off the agenda any controversial issues, hiding behind the infamous "legal jeopardy" defence.

In the local government conference, the lay members' leadership's own motion to see how the union could trigger a national dispute over local government cuts was not allowed on the agenda.

However, the demand for a fightback by members couldn't be quelled and 300 attended the evening Unison Action fringe meeting, determined to win a new, fighting and democratic leadership. 300 delegates also attended a lunchtime meeting the same day with workers in dispute (see Mid Yorkshire NHS strike article) and to hear Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

An excellent Socialist Party public meeting had 50 in attendance and seven delegates gave their names to join the Socialist Party. Socialist Party members produced an eight-page conference bulletin, sold a magnificent 250 copies of the Socialist, and raised 1,600 towards the fighting fund.

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In The Socialist 27 June 2018:


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Fight to save the Wales NHS

Gosport opioid deaths scandal: we need democratic control of our NHS


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Socialist Party women

Defending women's services


Workplace news and analysis

PCS union pay strike ballot - win the vote, win the claim

Unite union conference - drive out the Tories!

East Dunbartonshire council workers strike to stop pay and leave cuts

Unison union conference: delegates can't be cowed

NHS Mid Yorkshire strike suspended

NSSN conference, 7 July 2018: fighting back against the Tories and bosses

Homes and Communities Agency workers vote to strike over pay cuts and inequality


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands snap up issue 1000 of the Socialist

Fighting for rights for Windrush generation and other migrants

Fight to save Devon hospital services

Support growing against incinerator in Washington

Hull unions organise 'Engage for Change' festival

Huddersfield set to lose two town centre post offices


Opinion

Prison: life inside a living hell

Blairite cuts and restructures make social work dangerous

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Related links:

Unison:

triangle8,000 Glasgow workers plan historic mass strike

triangleCamden - Unison members in pay fight

triangleGlasgow workers striking for equal pay

triangleUniversity pay ballot: vote yes for strike action!

triangleEast Dunbartonshire council workers back further strikes

Union:

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triangleDevon foster carers fight 30% cut in allowances

triangleNewham finance staff fight pay and grading insult

triangleCoordinated catering and courier strikes prove potential for mass union mobilisation

Local government:

triangleReading council plans privatisation - set a no-cuts budget instead!

triangleBig victory for Wigan NHS strike against privatisation

triangleSocial care funding crisis: no to an age levy - make the super-rich pay

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