Aberdeenshire UNISON

National Delegate Conference 19-22 June 2007

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.

Bob Revie, Branch SecretaryBob 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.

Jane Carolan, NECJane 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.


Mike Kirby , Scottish ConvenerMike 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 bashing.

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.

John Stevenson, EdinburghIn 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.

Scottish conference briefingKate 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 Scotland website.

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.