Friday, June 24, 2011

UNISON NDC 2011: End of Conference

I’m on the crowded 5.15pm train back to London after the close of UNISON conference. Yet again I am amazed to discover there is life outside the conference bubble.
I was chatting to my fellow passengers - an Easy Jet pilot and a Northern Irish tyre production manager, who unbelievably have no interest, what-so-ever, in standing order committee reports, points of order, the two tier code or even the infamous UNISON Friday afternoon snake. What strange people?

I have a touch of the “conference lergie”, which I hope I can shake off when I get some sleep and fresh air.

On the whole, I thought it was a good conference. The union is very united when it comes to opposing the cuts, especially over Pensions. This is despite the best efforts of a small but vocal minority who constantly attack the union and want to divide us. There was a bit of a row over policy towards Palestine and a finance rule change. Which was a shame, but there was genuine concerns. I hope these issues are sorted by next year.

I didn’t have time to post that often during conference but will catch up over the next few days. These posts will be well out of sequence but bear with me.

In the morning there was a good debate on the stupidity of Police civilian administration staff being made redundant to “save money” then giving their jobs to uniformed Police officers who cost twice as much as them to employ.

The Chair of Standing Orders Clytus Williams gave his traditional end of conference final report. A Karaoke style musical finale - to loud applause.

There was a motion on supporting members in the private and community sectors followed by another one on campaigning with the community and voluntary sector to fight the cuts. I tried to speak on the 2nd one but the motion was closed down before it was my turn. I’ll post my speech anyway later. In the afternoon we (Housing Association branch delegates) were disappointed that we just ran out of conference time to move and debate branch our motion on “The Death and Rebirth of Public Housing”. But these things happen. But I can always post that speech as well!

The closing session is a vote of thanks to this years’ President, the no nonsense, Angela Lynes, for her term of office and past service to the Union. It is half humorous and half serious. The President is gently teased with pictures of her as a toddler flashed on the main screen while also recounting her time as President and her past service as the branch secretary of Glasgow City.

Straight after conference I went to my first meeting as a member of the UNISON National Executive Council. Which, when I catch up on my sleep (next month?) I will probably blog about.

So – a good conference. The forces of light and reason largely triumphed. UNISON is in very good shape to protect members and public services from this Tory led government and its ideologically driven hatred of public service workers and any form of collective provision.
Next year - Bournemouth.

(Caption shows Scottish newspaper “The Daily Record” in 1999 attacking Angela as being “hard left”.)
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