While I am not at all surprised I am still somewhat puzzled about the call for a special UNISON local government conference on Pensions. This is of course only a couple of months after the 2011 UNISON Local Government and National Delegate Conferences. When pensions were discussed and debated in depth and a number of motions passed.
So why should our precious facility time, resources and money be spent on yet another “conference”? When what we should be actually doing is real practical things in our branches: such as organising and mobilising our members?
The union position I think is crystal clear. Unless it gets a deal supported by members, the most far reaching and coordinated strike action seen in generations will take place. However, the union will not call for strike action purely to satisfy the fantasies of the ultra left. That way will only result in yet another “Glorious Defeat”. No thank you.
I am also amazed about the sudden “about turn” by many of those who are calling for this conference. Only a little while ago they were arguing for co-ordinated action over pensions across the whole public sector. Now it seems that they want not only individual unions to go their own sweet way but unions could even be split internally over action? This would potentially be disastrous.
My esteemed NEC colleague for Knowall suggests here that I would be opposed to this "conference" idea because I think it would be “divisive” and yet he encourages me to ask my service group to hold a separate conference?
I have been a member of the Local Government Pension scheme for nearly 20 years. There are many thousands of members in my branch and in our UNISON Community Service Group who are also members of the LGPS.
So our views are valid but what would happen if we did indeed hold a conference and we arrived at a different position from the local government service group? Or if the Health Service Group had yet another position?
While I am sure that there are members who genuinely think that calling for an (unnecessary, divisive and expensive) conference is the right thing, I cannot agree. The time for making speeches and passing motions has ended. We should now not be diverting our time and resources on conferences, motions, amendments, points of order and speeches. Branches should be focused on updating RMS, mapping the work place, educating members, supporting and recruiting new stewards and organising for possible action.
If we don’t do that we could not only lose any ballot but we will inevitably fail to deliver any effective industrial action that really matters.
So please comrades for the sake of our members "actions not words".