Aberdeenshire UNISON

Local Government Conference 2006

Centre stage for BobÖ.

Highlights for the Branch of the Local Government Conference, was the central role played by Branch Secretary Bob Revie, as Scottish Regional Delegate. Bobís fellow delegate, Eleanor Haggett of Fife Branch was unable to attend due to ill-health. As a result, Bob held the fort single handedly and was up speaking on no fewer than 3 occasions over the course of the two days.

Bob Revie speaking at conferencePensions were high on the Conference agenda and Scotlandís motion on the particular implications for women of the Rule of 85 won overwhelming support. "Women need to be given full and proper protection within the Local Government Pension Scheme. Life events such as childbirth, marriage, divorce and widowhood often have particular and significant pension implications for women, and these need to be taken fully into account," said Bob, in proposing the motion.

Once again the conference was very England and Wales focussed, and under a new rule. Scottish delegates were banned from voting on issues which were not relevant to Scotland. A number of amendments from Scotland and Scottish branches were designed to give a Scottish dimension, particularly where Scotland leads the field such as in nursery nurses pay, or where the problems are shared.

For example, Bob presented an amendment to a motion on nursery nurse pay, calling on conference to recognise the pay increases achieved by the action in Scotland, the Early Yearís Review and the research evidence on the role of nursery nurses in Scotland, which UNISON commissioned.

And he told conference of the threats to Scottish jobs from the efficiency reviews which the Scottish Executive is undertaking, which mirror the worries in England and Wales.

Probably the key debate of conference was on pensions. There were two opposing motions and these can be summarised as, "letís have a strategic campaign, to include industrial action if the current negotiations and the judicial review are unsuccessful," and "letís have a ballot for industrial action now." After impassioned debates from both sides it went to a card vote and the call for an immediate ballot was lost. Your branch delegation voted for the first option, and this position was confirmed as correct for the branch by the recent pensions consultation.

For my money, the funniest contribution of the week came from Pat Morgan of Cymru Wales on a debate about ill-health assessments. He described how his Councilís occupational health service never recommended ill-health retirement. "Even an application from a Mr E Pressley of Nashville, Tenesee was greeted with a suspicious mind and the letter returned to sender," he said to laughter and applause. However, the issue is a serious one, and the motion calling for better more specialist assessment and a proper appeals process was carried.