National Delegate Conference 19-22 June
Conference makes landmark decisions on pay
and privatisation as Scotland plays key role in debates
Conference made fundamental decisions about a co-ordinated fight
for pay south of the border - across health and local government
- and a trade union wide fight against privatisation, with national
and regional demonstrations. It also decided key policies on pensions.
Revie, Branch Secretary, was active at the podium once again
this year, as Scotland played a huge part at conference, in much
greater proportion than our numbers.
UNISON pledged to step up its 'Positively Public' campaign for
public services and against privatisation and back this up with
a national demonstration. Scotland had a key role in the debate
with an amendment warning of the 'creeping privatisation' of shared
services and PFI.
Speaking in support of the amendment, Bob told conference of the
unique public services model in Scotland which centres on collaboration
and co-ordination, not competition. "But Scotland also faces many
challenges similar to England," Bob warned, emphasising that the
union must continue to influence the public policy debate.
"We must let politicians know they cannot reform public services
without taking account of the views of users and staff."
Conference also called on workers to serve as trustees on occupational
pension schemes and has become the first union in the country to
set up its own training scheme for shareholder activism.
It praised the significant role of migrant workers in Britain's
public services and called on the government to shift attitudes
that criminalise workers rather than those who exploit them.
Attempts by EU leaders to rehash the EU constitution were also
opposed, along with directives that force privatisation. It called
on the government to consider levying windfall taxes on companies
making exorbitant profits.
Carolan, Scottish NEC member, played a key role speaking for
the National Executive on all of the major issues of the week. She
proposed the emergency motion on pay, and warned against the EU
services directive, as well as having a voice in the debates on
privatisation and Trident.
Kirby, Scottish Convener also spoke on many key issues and was
joined by a host of other Scotland speakers from branches large
and small and across a range of services. All in the tradition of
putting the arguments, trying for the hearts and minds - being critical
when needed - but largely avoiding destructive and cheap platform
The Scottish speakers had something different to say each time.
They addressed the motions and the points of debate. That is refreshing
in a Conference where some took pleasure in getting up time after
time to flog the same dead horse.
a particularly significant debate for those of us in Scotland, Conference
reaffirmed its campaign to oppose Trident replacement and warned
that the billions of pounds it would cost to replace the missile
would mean huge cuts in public services.
Edinburgh's John Stevenson moved the motion on behalf of
three branches, Scotland and the NEC. He told conference "The money
for Trident doesn't come out of the defence budget. It comes out
of general revenue. It doesn't come from fewer tanks - it comes
from fewer public services and up to 3,000 fewer jobs in Scotland."
Again, the international guests reminded us that trade unionism
should mean global solidarity. We have our struggles but when you
hear of theirs it makes you feel very humble.
The plethora of Scotland speakers did expose one issue we need
to address for the future. It is not just in Service Groups that
the devolution agenda is becoming obvious, it is national Conference
too. Issues like housing, schools, and many health and local democracy
issues are specific to Scotland. We need therefore to develop discussion
in the union about how we can all fully involve ourselves under
UNISON's national policy agenda.
The answer may well lie in developing joint seminars with the NEC
Policy structures on various topics to ensure devolution issues
are addressed while maintaining solidarity and a broad policy and
campaigning consistency across our union.
Ramsden, Branch Chair joined the Scottish Newssheet Team for
the first time and was kept very busy as the team produced a record
10 Scottish briefings. The briefings cannot mandate branches, but
outline the Scottish position on the key debates of the day, to
give delegations a steer if they don't have a mandate. This year
there were also two briefings which reported on debates with Scottish
input. These reports can now be found on the UNISON
The Scottish briefings also include funnies and this year the branch's
Inez Teece contributed to the humour, whilst Bob Revie
took the photos. Click on the briefing to see it in full.