Union conferences

Link outsourced workers' disputes

The union has now made a formal complaint to the Cabinet Office about the treatment of our reps in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Swansea. It’s increasingly clear that the strikebreaking campaign is, if not originating with management, certainly endorsed by them. The anti-strike, back-to-work petition was even tweeted by the DVLA’s official Twitter account. I’m pushing for the union to coordinate three outsourced workers’ disputes which are developing concurrently. On 29 June, we’ll get the result from a ballot of outsourced workers in the Department for Business, Energy, and...

Unison: challenges after stilted conference

The new National Executive Committee (NEC) of the public service union Unison, with a left majority for the first time in the union’s history, will face an uncooperative staff who will not want to relinquish control of the union just because their lay allies have been defeated. Within the union structures the NEC must prioritise democratising, including rewriting the industrial action handbook so it is no longer a block to lay control of disputes. At a virtual NEC meeting after the Unison conference held online 15-17 June, left-winger Paul Holmes was elected president, with left-wingers also...

Strong left minority at PCS Conference

The National Conference of the civil service workers' union PCS took place virtually on Sunday-Monday 13-14 June. Branches were allowed to submit motions and requests to speak in advance of the conference, with votes taken during the conference based on the strength of branch memberships. There was no ability to submit emergency motions or for branches to appeal to conferences to challenge standing orders. PCS Independent Left comrades on the NEC made proposals for this to happen, but this was voted down by the leadership majority. The conference was split into four sections: Covid-19 and...

Making some ground (John Moloney's column)

PCS annual delegate conference took place digitally on 13-14 June. Workers’ Liberty activists, as part of the Independent Left network, supported various motions to the conference. A motion on full-time officials’ pay, which talked about exploring ways to bring officers’ pay more closely in line with the average pay of members, was defeated, but by a margin which suggests some ground has been made in this debate since last discussed. Similarly, a proposal for the election of all officials was also defeated, but the motion on union structure that was passed included language about exploring...

Accessibility should be standard

Over thirty delegates attended the RMT transport workers’ union’s 2021 Disabled Members’ Conference online on 17 and 18 April. The conference demanded that workplace accessibility be “as standard” not “as required”. An accessible job is one in which a disabled worker does not have to ask for adjustments, because barriers have already been removed. With the pandemic and the economic crisis accompanying it, delegates acknowledged that disabled transport workers feel insecure in their jobs and that the union needs a concerted fightback which incorporates this and other equality issues. Conference...

Don't curtail RMT democracy!

RMT activists are rightly fond of emphasising that the Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the "parliament of the union", the highest democratic assembly with supreme decision making power. The 2020 AGM obviously took place in exceptional circumstances, and was conducted on Zoom. On the first day of the...

Some gains at NEU conference

The National Education Union (NEU) held an online Special Conference on 3 October. Over 600 people attended, with around 550 delegates. Conference voted on various rule changes. They were not taken as a job lot, as I wrongly reported in Solidarity 565. The rule change to allow the General Secretaries to extend their tenure beyond five years, if they had announced they were retiring, was withdrawn due to rank and file pressure. In a significant victory for the left of the union, the proposal to reduce the executive from 70 to 55 failed to get the two-thirds majority required, following strong...

NEU conference: support amendments!

The National Education Union (NEU) is holding a virtual conference on 3 October. The union’s annual conference in April 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis. The virtual conference will deal with rule changes. Most of them are benign. Some, such as the possibility of job-sharing elected roles, are probably positive. However, the ones reducing the Executive from 70 to 55, and allowing the General Secretaries to extend their term in office beyond five years if they announce they are retiring, should be opposed. Unfortunately, it seems the rule changes will be taken as a job lot, making...

UVW reinvents the wheel?

The AGM of United Voices of the World (UVW), on 5 October, packed out the meeting hall, with nearly 10% of the membership turning up. There was no delegate system. Anybody could come and take part in the embryonic UVW democracy. I’m happy to give a certain amount of leeway to UVW. They are a relatively new union that has often deployed effective, aggressive industrial tactics and organised previously “unorganisable” workers into a fighting force to turn the tide against outsourcing at universities around London. The launch of Sex, Cultural, Design, Architecture and Charity worker sections this...

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