Thursday, March 20, 2008

On a Winning Roll...the last AGM

The 2008 Labour Movement AGM season for me pretty much came to rest yesterday with the London UNISON Regional Committee AGM, held at the Friends Meeting place, Euston Road, London, WC1. This was my 8th of the year?

Over the last few years, centre left London UNISON activists have worked together to elect a representative lay regional leadership and ensure that the important committees that organise and oversee the union, act in the interests of ordinary UNISON members rather than politically motivated extremists.

During a relatively short period of time (at times a sharp battle), we firstly took the lay regional convener and deputy positions, then all of the lay regional council officers and we now hold a majority of seats in the main regional committees.

There are still problems and no doubt to our embarrassment later this year there will be (in my view) boring and repetitive “grandstanding” on the National Conference platform by predominately unrepresentative, angry, loud middle class types, arguing for the union to bring about revolution... NOW.

Yesterday, we won all the important votes and elections by a large majority. The first time in a long, long time.

London UNISON has changed.

(By co-incidence groundhog day, that evening I had to go all the way back from work to the Friends Meeting House again for my UNISON branch executive meeting!)


Anonymous said...

It's difficult to understand how a previous 'administration' can bind a subsequent one - especially if people are getting up at national conference to claim that they are speaking on behalf of a regional membership that has clearly moved on and effectively disowned some of the clowns you have successfully replaced. What's to stop the mainstream left in the region getting up and stating that "well, that was last year, and this year we're far less barmy"?
Brian B

John Gray said...

Hi Brian B
The region only sends 2 delegates to conference. Most are from branches. Some sadly, still in the hands of the unenlightened. For now.....

Anonymous said...

I see your point but you must have a newssheet team who can get the message across? Aren't they accountable to the region's elected leadership? And if not, why not?

Anonymous said...

That last point was me again - left my name off, sorry.
Brian B

John Gray said...

Hi Brian
Branches are independent (within reason) and delegates are supposed to follow individual branch policy decisions.

In my own personal view, the majority of branches in the region are run by activists who have the interests of their members are heart. Even if I might have disagreements with some of these activists from time to time.

However, in the handful of branches that are run by the ultra left. The key is to empower ordinary branch members to reclaim their branches and pass policies that represent the wishes of the wider membership. Then to elect branch delegates which reflect the views of members.

If we organise. It will happen.

Andrew Berry said...

Bring it on

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, over on Jon Roger's blog, he says (apropos the need for strike action on pay):

"I believe that the role of trade union leadership (which means everyone from General Secretary all the way up to a shop steward) is to seek to develop a strategy which can advance the interests of the members and then to win our members to support that strategy – in part that therefore involves trying to persuade members to take action and to make sacrifices. Whether we can win such arguments depends upon how persuasive and convincing our strategy and our arguments are."

Fascinating then that he never manages to criticise the failure of the extreme left (that he supports) to convince people of their views.

It's always the same old mantra trotted out about how strike action is the be all and end all. The extreme left will always fail while they are unable to develop a more sophisticated analysis and solutions. Our members are not fooled by their unreasoning inflexibility, and non-members - who we desperately need if we are to build a decent level of density - will not be recruited on this naive basis.

More power to your elbow in trying to create a regional organisation which is more truly representative. I think you and your colleagues have done a tremendous job over the past few years of reclaiming the union. I also know from bitter experience in my own region how difficult it is to keep up the momentum.

The extreme left do a very good job of marginalising themselves (it makes them feel special after all, and bonded by their self-created victimhood) but please do your best not to take your foot off the pedal!

Anonymous said...

The one way of changing policy is by being able to debate it at regional councils and that means that meetings have to be both quorate and have enough time on the agenda to do so. Otherwise, existing policy stands and the region has to follow it.

On another note, are you intending to take a lead in your proposed overthrow of branch leaderships in London, starting with your own branch?

John Gray said...

Hi anon

It also means that people will not bore delegates to death and put them off from attending by grandstanding (like last regional committee) and also boring people to death with their putrid nonsense.

I’ve been to two meetings so far in my branch and have been really impressed with each meeting. No doubt I will not always agree with all decisions. But if it is not broke then don’t fix it!