Challenge to Unison leaders

Submitted by AWL on 24 February, 2015 - 5:12 Author: Ed Whitby

On 24 March local government workers from the largest union in that sector, Unison, will meet to debate the decision to call off the strike action over pay.

Activists were angry that the dispute against the employers' pathetic 1% pay offer was called off in favour of an even more pathetic 2% over 2 years, not just compounded the difference between pay rise and inflation, but also preventing members taking action in the run up to national and local elections.

Activists were also angered with the methods used in the pay dispute, tactical errors and a failure to offer a confident lead or properly consult before calling off this dispute.

The whole shambles led to the unprecedented decision by branches representing over 30% of unison’s local government membership to successfully call a special conference against the wishes of the leadership.

The conference will discuss: The 2014-16 pay offer and the decision to call off the strike, as well as future pay consultation procedures and how to best secure a decent pay rise.

Fifty five motions have been successfully submitted with 12 being ruled out of order, unfortunately some of the motions ruled out of order for bureaucratic reasons were actually raising crucial points such as national and local strike funds and coordinating across other unions.

On the table for debate at the conference are:

• Lay member control in negotiations — at present negotiations have involved no lay member representation but full time officers.
• Hardship funds/strike pay — only worded as “encourage branches to set up strike funds”, but this is a start.
• Timing of pay negotiations and disputes — normally the vote to even consider strikes to reject an offer begins after the pay year. So our lowest paid members are stuck between needing a pay rise they can live on, but needing any pay rise as soon as possible.
• Fighting for a serious flat rate increase for all members, to end poverty pay, and the serious strategy and leadership commitment to fight for this.

Lambeth Unison has called a meeting to discuss these issues and how to organise after the conference for Monday 23 March, 6pm, UCL, Archaeology Room G6, London.

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