Monday, June 21, 2010

UNISON NDC 2010: Organising and CONDEMNATION

 This is my last NDC 2010 post. Picture of London UNISON regional convenor Gloria Hanson outside conference with a very suitable sign. 

This is a speech I did for the Friday morning "Organising" debate (but was "bumped off").

"Conference, President, John Gray HAB, Greater London region speaking in favour of Composite A.

I think that all of us welcome the opportunity to debate the “bread and butter” issue of organising in our union. I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned that old chestnut “organise or die” but I think we all know in our heart of hearts that the future growth and development of the union is the most important matter we need to get right this week.

Conference, as Dave mentioned in his address on Tuesday, we are facing a “perfect storm” - a coalition government which is an open enemy of trade unionism. A government which is committed to savage spending cuts and is going to use wholesale privatisation as one of the ways to bring this about. That means our jobs, our pensions and our terms & conditions.

To resist and defend we must have high densities of members in all branches, in all regions and all services groups. We need trained and properly supported stewards, safety, learning and equality reps in every single workplace. We need effective back up from regional and national office. Nothing less will be acceptable. Otherwise the important issues we have discussed this week will just be hot air.

To give you an idea of the organising challenges facing us from a Community Service Group perspective. I am the branch secretary of a branch with 3500 members, located mainly in London but we also have a range of members working from Southampton to Peterborough. We have some 130 different employers – big and small. My own employer has offices located in 4 different UNISON regions and covered by 7 different UNISON branches.

So conference. I welcome the commitment in this composite to set a target of 1.5 million members; the commitment to tackle “inequality in representation”; the 100 new organising staff; the 3 companies’ project and the Living wage campaign. Also, to no-one’s surprise who knows me I welcome the commitment to greater use of information technology and even new social media.

Conference, please support this composite and go back to your branches next week and make organising number one on your agenda".

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