Wednesday, June 29, 2011

UNISON NDC 2011: Rule Change Schedule F Branch Finance

On Thursday afternoon at NDC it is rule change time.  This is my speech on supporting Schedule F.  I went to a Finance fringe the previous evening and quickly gathered that this proposed rule change was in trouble.  There were genuine concerns by delegates but also the usual suspects were just out to cause trouble. The rule change was lost. This is a shame, but there you go.  Here is my speech:

President, Conference, John Gray, Housing Association Branch, Greater London Region speaking in favour of this Rule Change.

Conference, I am speaking as a former treasurer of a large branch which employed staff and had hundreds of thousand pounds in various saving accounts and industrial action funds. We even had in our accounts, strangely enough for a trade union, two hundred pounds of British government War bonds from Second World War, which I tried to redeem, but couldn't since we had lost the actual certificates sometime in the dim and distance past. I have also been a regional finance convenor for the past 5 years. I am now a branch secretary with practically no reserves yet we employ four staff - so money and good financial governance is vital.  We have 4 workers saleries to pay each month.

Conference, I have done a number of different jobs for the union. But to be honest the job of branch treasurer was one of the most difficult and most worrying. Not being that good at maths probably didn’t help. But making sure that this huge amount of money, more money that I had ever come across before in my life, was safe and secure and any use was properly accounted for was a worry. I also felt that the interest we received was grossly inadequate and did not protect the union’s money against inflation.

I appreciate that the great majority of branches are already well run and have sound financial procedures. But we must face the facts that some are not. NDC all of us must take responsibility for enabling the union to safe guard all our monies not just NEC. 

Conference I think that this proposal is complex as all financial matters are but potentially a good move for branches and for the union. We can satisfy our external auditors and the inland revenue that our money is being looked after properly, legally and it is safe.  

It will remove some, not all, of the everyday headaches, that treasurers and branch secretaries face. It will also increase income to branches at a time when you will need every penny you can get to defend your members.

Finally conference, I understand people have concerns but we are in a union. By definition a union is a collective organisation. We have spent a great deal of time this week defending collective investments such as our pensions, collective rights and agreements over pay and conditions and taking collective industrial action to achieve our aims. 

A collective financial policy is better than a series of individual ones. Collective investments are going to be better than individual investments. Conference, Please support this rule change.

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