Friday, 19 June 2015

Thank you delegates

‎With ninety minutes until the close of Conference and four Composites, three motions and an amendment ahead of Motion 106 on the re-prioritised list it is clear that - barring a miracle, Motion 106 (and Amendment 106.2) will not be debated at Conference.

The motion will therefore be referred to the NEC, whose position on the substantive motion is to "support with qualifications" (whilst opposing the excellent West Sussex amendment).

Branches and delegates who are concerned to ensure adequate resources for our branches must therefore now be vigilant.

Engage with the Branch Resources Review - and insist upon regular reports from your NEC members.

For the NEC position on the substantive motion to have evolved from seeking withdrawal‎ to supporting (albeit "with qualifications") could be seen as a nod to the concerns on the floor of Conference.

However, if we are to push the Union in the direction of decentralising resources to the branches where they are needed the pressure needs to be kept up, not just in Brighton next year but throughout the year ahead.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Where next for the debate on branch funding?

With Motion 106 eighth on the order of business for Friday afternoon it is difficult to see that we will get the debate on branch funding which our Union needs us to have. Twenty years ago there might have been the discipline on Conference floor to get that far down the reprioritised motions (at a time when more delegates understood that it only really matters - at this stage in Conference - to debate and vote upon items opposed by the NEC).

Whilst delegates should not - of course - give up on the possibility of a debate on Motion 106 this afternoon we do need to start considering how branches will engage with and respond to the further work being done as part of the Branch Resources Review.

We need a funding formula which guarantees a basic allocation of a proportion of membership subscriptions if we are to defend branch autonomy, yet we also need an approach to allocating additional funding which meets the needs of the half of branches who are spending more than they have coming in.

More than that though - we need more money for branches overall.

For those who think that this debate can always and only be about how we redistribute the 23.5% going to branches I want to ask this. Why do we have a "Branch Resources Review" and not also a "National Resources Review"?

Did any branch waste a million pounds on Care Connect Learning?

Did any branch incur unbudgeted expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds on the Three Companies Project (agreed outside of our structures of lay governance)?

Did any branch build a massive Headquarters building in Euston and then leave two floors empty (earning no income) for four years?

Branches cannot justly be lectured on prudence or financial management from the Centre of our Union.

NEC position on Motion 106 may change?

‎Word has reached Lambeth branch delegates on the floor of UNISON National Delegate Conference that the Finance Committee of our National Executive Council (NEC) has decided to recommend to the NEC that the NEC supports ("with qualifications") Motion 106.

The NEC will, however, be recommended to oppose the amendment to Motion 106 from the West Sussex branch.

Whilst we do not yet know how high up Friday's order of business‎ Motion 106 will be - and therefore whether either the Motion or the Amendment will be debated and voted upon - this development indicates the pressure upon the NEC from branches to accept that there must be redistribution of resources from the Centre to our branches.

‎We need to keep this pressure on.

And - if we can - we need to debate (and support) both Motion 106 and the West Sussex Amendment.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Reprioritisation is our only hope

‎It is now clear, if there was ever any doubt, that UNISON National Delegate Conference can only debate the vital question of branch funding if delegates reprioritise Motion 106.

In four Conference sessions we have disposed of only the top four items on the snake. There are another eight items ahead of Motion 106 and only two more Conference sessions to debate policy (on Thursday and Friday morning).

We have heard some excellent, passionate and moving speeches and have agreed a total of fourteen motions in eleven and a half hours of Conference time. 

However we must discuss branch funding if we are to make UNISON fit for our future. Please reprioritise Motion 106.

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Conference - you've willed the ends. Now will the means!

‎Lambeth branch delegate, Hitesh Patel, speaking in support of Emergency Composite 1 (also supported by the Manchester branch and the National Executive Council (NEC)) didn't just ask delegates to vote for the Composite (which they did, unanimously).

Hitesh pointed out that the Composite motion told the NEC‎ to "review what can be done to ensure that activists have sufficient facilities, support and resources to ensure that they can adequately represent their members."

Hitesh pointed out that this was a difficult task to set the NEC - but that delegates could help make it easier by reprioritising Motion 106.

We need an organising response to the war declared upon us by the Party of the rich.

That organising response must begin in and be founded upon our branches, which clearly need adequate funding to do the job.

So - if you supported Emergency Composite 1 now reprioritise Motion 106.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Building support for the reprioritisation of Motion 106

‎Delegates from Hounslow, Hampshire and West Sussex joined Lambeth delegates to distribute hundreds of leaflets outside the SECC in Glasgow this morning (thank you comrades!)

There is an increasing recognition that, as the thirteenth motion on the "remaining order of business" (known - for reasons lost in the mists of time but almost certainly unrelated to the Book of Genesis - as "the snake") Motion 106 will only be debated if it is reprioritised for Friday afternoon.

‎Delegates who want a debate on branch funding need to persuade other delegates in their Region to give Motion 106 TOP PRIORITY in the reprioritisation ballot. Because some parts of the Union with a voice in the reprioritisation process clearly won't want 106 debated - we need top priority from as many Regions as possible if we are to get 106 at or very close to the top of business for Friday afternoon.

Since any further Emergency motions or composites admitted tomorrow to the agenda will very likely be timetabled for Friday afternoon ahead of the reprioritised business (and since Friday afternoon's business is wound up at 3.45pm)‎ we won't get far down the list.

There are a number of ways in which delegates (and visitors) in Glasgow can help to persuade others to support reprioritisation of Motion 106;

Talk to other delegates in your branch and Region (just like recruiting and organising there's no substitute for face to face contact);

Raise the need to reprioritise Motion 106 when speaking at fringe meetings if it's relevant (or even if it's not...!);

‎Those who fancy a little fresh air after (or before) the torpor of the SECC can join leaflet drops from 1.30pm today and 8.45am tomorrow (look out for Lambeth delegates with leaflets);

You can tweet support using the hashtags #uNDC15 and #M106;

You can support Motion 106 by linking to this blog as your Facebook status and asking friends to share;

And, if you're really keen, you can accost people in hotel bars or pubs and strike up a conversation about Motion 106‎ (but please note that the Lambeth branch accepts no liability...)

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Local Government Conference calls for change on branch funding!

‎Local Government Conference today agreed, in debating Facility Time, to call upon the NEC to bring forward proposals which address the need for practical and immediate support measures to branches by remedying the shortcomings of current resource streams.

Dan Sartin, from West Sussex, successfully moving Amendment 14.2, made clear that this meant support for an increased share of resources ‎to branches - and urged delegates to ensure at National Delegate Conference that Motion 106 is debated and supported.

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Might Motion 106 become even more interesting?

‎Lambeth branch is hearing that the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for National Delegate Conference have been reconsidering their previous decision to rule out an amendment from the West Sussex branch.

Were that amendment to be admitted to the Conference agenda it would give Conference the opportunity to put some further transitional detail into the steer which Motion 106 seeks to give the National Executive Council (NEC).

We'll know more when we see the second report of the SOC on Tuesday morning - but it remains clear that Conference can only be sure of being able to debate branch funding if Motion 106 is reprioritised.

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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Support grows for Motion 106 on the Conference fringe

Delegates preparing for the start of tomorrow’s Local Government Service Group Conference have (understandably!) been focused upon the business of that Conference, rather than the National Delegate Conference (beginning on Tuesday) at which Motion 106 on branch funding will be on the agenda.

However, Lambeth branch delegates have been heartened by expressions of support (some from unanticipated quarters) both for our Motion and for the vital question of reprioritisation of the motion. For further updates check back to this blog soon!

Manchester supports Motion 106

UNISON's influential Manchester local government branch - the driving force behind this spring's Special Local Government Conference - have come out strongly in support of Motion 106 on their branch website.

‎Manchester's experienced Conference delegation know that we will need to reprioritise Motion 106 in the ballot of Conference delegates in order to give our Conference the opportunity to give clear guidance to the National Executive Council (NEC) as it concludes the long-running review of branch funding arrangements.

Lambeth delegates heading for Glasgow today do so with an added spring in their step with Manchester's support for Motion 106.

Thank you comrades!

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Support growing for Motion 106

‎Lambeth branch are encouraged by expressions of support being received from across the country for Motion 106 on the agenda for UNISON National Delegate Conference.

If you are going to UNISON Conference and would like a copy of the leaflet in support of Motion 106 either contact the branch or comment on this blog.

If you're a UNISON member not attending Conference be sure to lobby your delegates to support Motion 106 (if they're not already mandated to do so!)

If you're not a UNISON member then thank you for showing interest and why not join UNISON (

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UNISON Conference must debate branch funding!

Support Motion 106

Motion 106 is the only motion on the Conference agenda which deals with the vital question of branch funding. The current system for funding our branches was agreed in 2001 and doesn’t deliver for branches in 2015.

Branches are doing more

Since the current branch funding regime was agreed, more and more responsibilities have been shifted to branches from the Centre;

  • ·        There’s less national bargaining and more to do locally;
  • ·        Branches have to deal with more and more employers;
  • ·        Branches now administer the membership system (RMS).

We have to do more with less trade union facility time – and as more and more members join online and pay by direct debit we will only have more work to do to organise and keep our records up to date.

What does Motion 106 say?

Motion 106 tells the truth. It tells our National Executive Council (NEC) that new branch funding arrangements need to give more resources to our branches where the work is being done. It doesn’t try to set out every detail but it allows Conference to give our NEC a clear steer – which it is our right (and duty) as Conference delegates to do.

Why won’t Lambeth branch withdraw?

The NEC have asked Lambeth branch, who are moving the motion, to withdraw it because they are going to bring a report to Conference next year. But they were told to review Branch Funding by Conference in 2011 – and last year they supported a Composite Motion at Conference which included the wording of Motion 106. It’s not too soon to decide.

It’s time Conference had our say!

How can we debate branch funding?

We need to get to Motion 106

Motion 106 is the thirteenth item on the remaining order of business (“the snake”). There are three Composite Motions, and nine other motions (with a total of nineteen amendments) ahead of Motion 106 on the snake. Conference only debates motions on the snake once it has debated timetabled business. There are four Composite Motions timetabled as well as ten other motions (with a total of ten amendments).

All these other motions reflect the priorities of UNISON members too. It is important that Conference gets to debate and vote upon them. It is not important that we sit through several speeches from people agreeing with each other on each motion or amendment.

Moving the question be put

If Conference is to get through its business, delegates need to be prepared to move “the question be put”. We don’t come to Conference to make friends or make speeches – but to take decisions that matter to the members we represent back in our branches.

Moving the question is a positive step taken by delegates who believe UNISON should continue to be a democratic trade union. Moving the question gives Conference the choice about whether it wants to hear more speeches or get on and take a decision. Delegates should try to get through business so that Conference reaches Motion 106.

Reprioritise Motion 106

In case Conference business does not move swiftly enough, delegates also need to reprioritise Motion 106 for debate on Friday afternoon (if it is not taken sooner). As delegates when we reprioritise motions we have to remember that we are here to represent the interests of our members in our branches. 

Support Motion 106

Motion 106

Motion 106 on the agenda for UNISON National Delegate Conference, which takes place in Glasgow from Tuesday 16 to Friday 19 June 2015, is the only motion Conference can debate on branch funding.

This is what it says;

Conference notes that a review of branch funding in UNISON has been ongoing since 2011. Conference accepts that branch funding is a complex and controversial topic. However we believe that it is self-evident that, in the years since the current branch funding regime was adopted at National Delegate Conference 2001 there have been substantial changes in the environment in which UNISON operates, and that these have generally increased demands at branch level.

The key changes include;
• Reduced significance of national collective bargaining with an increase in local bargaining;
• The fragmentation of public services leading to almost all branches becoming multi-employer branches;
• Devolution of administrative processes within the Union to branches (e.g. the RMS).

In the opinion of Conference it is clear that there is a general need to devolve UNISON resources to the level at which they can best assist the Union to meet the interests of our members. Conference calls on the NEC to continue with the review of branch resources and report back to conference in 2016 and in so doing to recognise that significant devolution of the Union’s resources to its branches is required. In particular, Conference anticipates that the overall proportion of the Union’s resources allocated to branches will increase significantly over time under a future branch funding regime.