Aberdeenshire UNISON

National Delegate Conference
18th - 21st June 2012 in Liverpool

Conference chronicles the devastating impact of this UK government's policies and sends delegates to take the message out to members

Delegates at this year's conference heard testimony from speaker after speaker about the devastating impact of the UK Government's cuts on ordinary people and the poorest and the most vulnerable, whilst the wealthiest just keep getting richer.

The composited motion which included the Branch's motion was on the Agenda but Conference ran out of time before it could be debated. However, many other debates echoed the themes of our motion and called for continued action to end inequality and to fight for a fairer society.

Speakers urged delegates to keep making the arguments, back in their branches, out in the community, that this government is a government of the rich. It has no interest in the welfare of the poor and the vulnerable, it cares little about the rest of us, and it is no good for the economy.

Jane Carolan
Jane Carolan

Welfare based on "prejudice and dogma"
Scottish NEC member Jane Carolan told us that this government’s welfare policy is based, not on evidence but on prejudice and dogma, “drip fed through friendly right wing media to make sure that facts don’t get in the way,” and UNISON will challenge it at every turn.

“So who suffers from benefits cuts,” asked Jane. “The 300,000 children condemned to poverty. Those forced to take a weekly trip to a food bank to ensure they can feed their families. The thousands evicted in the name of housing benefit changes. And the disabled cut off from all support by a multinational operating to guidelines that have seen even the dying declared fit for work.”

Lilian Macer
Lilian Macer

And Lilian Macer, Scotland’s Regional Delegate developed this theme telling conference that this is about what kind of society we want to live in. She added that this government’s ideological attacks will have a significant impact on our members since two thirds of those who will lose as a result of these welfare reforms will be in work, in predominantly low paid jobs delivering vital public services.

Encourage spending to benefit the economy
Gordon McKay, another Scottish NEC member added his voice, "We need an end to job cuts and the dogma driven pay cap in the public

Gordon McKay
Gordon McKay

"Giving people work and paying a fair wage will promote spending and growth. We should raise the income of the lowest paid because not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the sensible thing to do when we need to encourage spending.

"There is an alternative to austerity, it is a programme of fairness, decency and justice. It is what this union is built on."

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

Don't put profits before people
Our own Steve Gray, Asst Branch Secretary, in his maiden speech to conference said, “Homes are for people not profits! Putting profits before people has resulted in the national housing crisis that affects UNISON members and other people on low incomes to middle incomes.”

He described the desperately short supply of affordable housing and how this marginalises people, breaks up families and ruins communities. “Housing that is affordable, secure, fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of local communities is essential to a Fair Society.”

End the poverty pay scandal
Delegates slammed the Coalition government’s “slash and burn” responses to the economic crisis, with attacks on pay and terms and conditions and growing privatisation creating a low wage economy, job insecurity and undermining employment rights.They called for UNISON to stay at the forefront of the opposition to these attacks, with a range of measures including building on our living wage campaign.

Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie

Scotland Regional Delegate, Stephen Smellie called for the living wage campaign to be extended, to press councils and the Scottish government to use their procurement policies to make sure that these employers also pay their workers the living wage.

"Councils are procuring services in the full knowledge that workers will be paid national minimum poverty wages, often on zero hours contracts. This is a publicly funded wages scandal,” slammed Stephen.

And Susan Kennedy, Asst Branch secretary told delegates of some of the Branch's successes in staving off privatisation and successfully negotiating a 'Living Wage' for all local authority employees including Modern Apprentices and looking to see this assimilated into the pay scales.

Susan Kennedy
Susan Kennedy

Susan said, “We believe we have achieved what we have now by being prepared to negotiate, by involving our members and being publicly visible.

"We've been seen to be keen negotiators by using all the tools available to us, making sure all our members know what it means to them and letting the public know how these changes can either benefit or disadvantage their lives."


Who's who?

Every UNISON branch elects a delegation to attend annual conference and to vote on behalf of their local branch members. Scotland has about 200 delegates. This branch has three. Two must be women and one of these must be a low paid woman, to reflect the make-up of the branch.

Branch Committee voted this year's delegation to Conference in Liverpool as:

  Inez Teece Morag Lawrence Kate Ramsden Steve Gray Susan Kennedy
  Inez Teece Branch Secretary
Morag Lawrence Newssheet Editor Kate Ramsden
Branch Chair
Asst Secretary
Susan Kennedy, Asst Secretary








Kate RamsdenUNISON Scotland Briefing Team
Kate Ramsden will also be one of UNISON Scotland's Conference Briefing Team again this year. The Briefings are used to inform Scottish delegates of UNISON Scotland's policy position on the debates. They also include some reports of debates involving Scottish speakers, and many more will go on the UNISON Scotland website.


What's what?

UNISON's annual national conference is the union's ruling body. Every year delegates from all over the country take part in debates to choose our campaigning priorities and policies.

Conference is chaired by the UNISON National President, or by one of the Vice-Presidents. This year there are over 100 motions on the conference agenda again and a number of proposed amendments to the UNISON rules. Only a proportion of motions will actually be debated at Conference because there is not time to hear them all. Motions are therefore "prioritised".

Branch motions and amendments
Our branch has one motion on the Conference Agenda this year. The motion was approved at the Branch Committee in January and is titled, End the growing inequality and fight for a fairer society.

Motions are passed by a straight majority of the conference delegates on a hand vote. If it is close, conference delegates or the chair of conference can call for a card vote. The number of card votes per delegation is based on the number of members in the branch.

Amendments to rule need to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the voting delegates. Card votes can also be called for (and often are) in rule changes. Thursday afternoon is traditionally the time that the rule changes are debated. Many delegates find this session really boring, but in recent years it has produced some of the best debates, and often the funniest speeches.

As delegates we will vote on the motions and the rule changes in line with branch policy, where we have that in place and we can speak for or against any of the motions, amendments and rule changes, again in line with Branch policy, if we have a position.



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