National Local Government Service Group
14th-15th June in Brighton
Branch speaks up for social work as conference
pledges support for members in the recession
This year's local government conference featured a great deal of
consensus. For some this can make for a dull conference but our
delegation found it interesting and relevant, focussing as it did
on services such as social work and education; and on the voluntary
sector - all key issues for our members. Our motion on UNISON's
response to baby P was heard as part of a "composite"
motion. (See below.)
We found local government conference to be less dominated by England
and Wales issues unrelated to the situation in Scotland. This year's
conference concentrated on issues which affect members across the
UK, even where services are managed differently and subject to different
law. In fact we only voted on one motion affected by Rule P1.3.6,
which is the rule which restricts voting by one or other of the
delegations from the devolved administrations.
There was also a great deal on equalities, especially at a time
of recession and local government conference confirmed the union's
commitment to protect groups such as our disabled, LGBT, black and
women members in these financially challenging times.
here for more reports
Speaking up for social work
Aberdeenshire's motion on social work was merged into a composite
motion along with motions from seven other branches and regions.
brought the crisis being faced by Social Work members to the fore
as Local Government delegates backed a range of measures to campaign
against cuts and for more resources.
The composite included a call for UNISON to take a key role in
publicising the difficult working conditions for many social care
staff. But, crucially, UNISON will also highlight all the excellent
work done by its members every day to protect children and other
Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair, spoke of the particular pressures
facing our members working in child protection.
“It is always a tragedy when a child dies and especially when a
child dies at the hands of the people who should have been caring
for and protecting them” she said.
“When this happens though, my heart always sinks because alongside
the individual tragedy, I know that somewhere along the line the
media and politicians will need someone to blame and the moving
finger is most likely to stop and stay at social work”.
Conference heard of the outrageous caseloads and the staffing crisis
in many councils. But speakers also pointed to the great work done
despite these pressures.
Kate said it was time to ‘speak up for social work’.
“Conference, please support your colleagues in social work, not
only by passing this composite, but also by defending social work
whenever you hear it criticised”.
Such was the level of interest in the debate and the level of support
from Conference, it is clear that Social Work staff are at last
being heard. All we need to do now is convince the media!
Who's who and what's what?
Service group conferences bring together members across the country
doing similar kinds of jobs or working for the same kinds of employers.
Our branch's service group is local government. It has its conference
just before the National Conference and in the same venue.
The branch is entitled to send four delegates to this conference
and must have regard to proportionality in line with the gender
balance etc in the branch. We tend to have the same delegation as
the Delegate Conference because of the distance to travel and the
fact that one conference follows on from the other.
The Branch delegation to this year's Local Government Conference
in Brighton is:
Over the past few years the branch has regularly submitted motions
to this conference. Last year we submitted an emergency motion on
rising mileage costs during the fuel crisis, which was merged with
similar emergency motions from other parts of the UK into a "composite".We
also spoke on a number of other motions of relevance to the branch.
Click here for more.
This year we have one motion on UNISON's
reponse to "baby P". This motion was approved to be
submitted to Local Government Conference at the Branch AGM in February.
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.
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.