Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thursday: UNISON NDC – Amendments to Rule

Thursday morning is usually international time. Our first speaker was James Clancy, President of the Canadian trade union, National Union of Public and General Employees.

James is a superb public speaker who really grabbed the attention of Conference. Next we had motions on Palestine, Columbia, South Africa and Burma.

At lunch I went to the Health & Safety fringe (see next post).

In the afternoon, we debated union rule changes. I had thought things would be quite quiet this year, but the rule change to reduce the waiting period from 13 to 4 weeks for full representation was fiercely debated. I think that we have to recognise that times have changed and that many new employees do not understand the importance of joining a union as soon as they start work. So imposing a 3 month waiting period for membership is not helpful for organising.

Many speakers felt that it is important to have a long qualification period to stop people only joining the union when they get into trouble. While I am broadly sympathetic with this view I think that if you do not have an effective union organisation in the company then it is very harsh to refuse representation to anyone unless you can demonstrate that this person has been actually asked to join the union but refused.

Limited local representation for employees who have not refused membership is the way that we resolve this issue in our Group. This amendment "fell" again (not passed) anyway.

In the afternoon there was also the big debate on “Democracy in UNISON”.

UPDATE: Stand corrected, James has pointed out - the rule change was actually passed!


James Anthony said...

The amendment on qualifications from 13 weeks to 4 weeks passed. Which was amazing

Sean said...

tut tut John not paying attention or had you popped out to write a speech:D Very pleased it has been passed at the third attempt even though I never got to speak on it on behalf of the Branch as the prioritising procress meant Glasgow Caledonian's motion got debated 1st before one doing the same thing from my own Branch, Croydon LG and Bury St Edmonds Health. The key red herrign was the issue of joining when you are in trouble the rul was and is still clear that the timelimit applies from the time of the incident.

John Gray said...

Hi James and Sean

My only miserable excuse is “Conference fatigue” and that I have left it too late to write things up! Now thankfully finished!