Aberdeenshire UNISON

National Local Government Service Group Conference

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.

Click 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.

Kate RamsdenThis 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 vulnerable people.

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 delegation
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:

Kate Ramsden   Ian McDonald   Susan Kennedy   Tricia Morrison
Kate Ramsden
Branch Chair
  Ian McDonald
Branch Treasurer
  Susan Kennedy Steward   Tricia Morrison Branch Officer

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.