Delegates gathered in Glasgow for the Unison Local Government Conference on 14-15 June.
Following the special conference in March, pay was very much on the minds of many. Questions about what had happened to our pay claim were a hot topic among delegates. A fringe meeting was called by Salford City branch on Saturday night to discuss the way forward and build support for their emergency motion on pay.
The motion called for the union to carry out the decision of the special conference and noting that the claim put in by Unison was almost immediately rejected, but that members would not have known about this prior to the deadline for motions, and many within branches would still be unaware.
The motion stated that unless a reasonable offer is made by the employer by 31st August then there should be a ballot for industrial action.
The motion was ruled out of order on grounds of “legal jeopardy”. Calling on the Service Group Executive (SGE) to ensure that there is an escalating calendar of action, coordinated where possible with other unions, was said to be calling for illegal action as the SGE are not able to call strike action!
A day later an article appeared in the Independent where Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary was quoted saying
“Industrial action for us is the last resort, but we are not going to have employers being able to act in brutal ways and our people not to be able to stand up for themselves. If it means taking unlawful action, that is something we will have to look at — because it’s the law that has moved against us."
That our own conference cannot discuss this sort of action while Dave Prentis is free to speak like this to the press will not surprise many.
Speeches criticising the leadership on pay got the loudest applause of any during the conference but a strategy to win our pay claim remains far off.