Friday, 19 June 2015

UNISON Local Government Conference - Some Reflections

Two delegates from North Somerset attended UNISON's Local Government conference at the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow on 14th and 15th June. Our union debated many motions, including: Local Government Cuts and Finance, Privatisation, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Devolution, Co-ops and Mutuals, the attacks on facility time, Organising in Schools, the Living Wage and Local Government Pay, We heard inspirational guest speakers - John Hilary from War on Want, and Vincent Ncongwane, General Secretary of Swaziland TUC. We attended a fringe meeting on the impact of TTIP on Local Government, and a demonstration in support of Robert O'Donnell - a UNISON Rep victimised and sacked by the SECC only days ahead of our conference starting - so too late for us to transfer it elsewhere in protest, although a the President of UNISON read out a statement at the beginning of conference informing the SECC that if a way forward is not found, UNISON will withdraw any future business from the SECC and encourage other trade unions to do the same.

With the election of a Tory government we're certainly going to have a lot on over the next few years - with more attacks on our pay and conditions, more cuts and privatisations of local government services, and more attacks on our facility time. The Trade Union bill aims to make it almost impossible to strike with restrictions on ballot turnouts, unless we are able to mobilise our members. One delegate from Islington branch called for demonstrations across the country on Emergency budget day - 8th July, followed by an industrial action ballot over pay before Schools break up for the summer holidays, and industrial action in the Autumn on the day that the Trade Union bill gets its first reading in parliament.

During the conference we also got the news that Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington, had just in the nick of time received enough nominations to stand for Labour Leader. All trade union members must become Trade Union Affiliated Supporters and use their vote to elect a Labour Leader, who will stand on an Anti-Austerity platform. Tomorrow, on the 20th June, tens of thousands of people will take part in the End Austerity Now demonstration in London, marching from the Bank of England to Parliament. A demonstration will also take place in Glasgow. This must become the start of a massive campaign to end austerity and kick out the Tories - we cannot wait another five years in the hope of a Labour Government.

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