UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Council 2018 Election Results

The 2018 Regional Council delegates have elected a strong Regional Convenor team once again.

Wendy Nichols, North Yorkshire Local Government Branch, elected as Regional Convenor achieving 42 votes compared to Nick Ruff, Kirklees Branch, who only achieved 24.

Pam Sian, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Transport, achieved 43 votes and Jenny Middleton, Yorkshire Gas, achieved 34 votes. They were elected Assistant Regional Convenors.

Sarah Littlewood, Hull City Local Government, and Angela Waller, Kirklees, did not achieve sufficient votes.

John Campbell, Sheffield Teaching Hospital, elected Deputy Regional Convenor and David Syms, Leeds and York Community Health, elected Regional Treasurer unopposed.

UNISON NEC February 2018

The meeting of the National Executive Council started with tributes by the President to Assistant General Secretary Cliff Williams and long standing NEC member Irene Stacey who recently passed away. They are both remembered for years of service to UNISON and the Trade Union movement and will be sadly missed by those who knew them.

Irene Stacey with Ed Miliband

The majority of the NEC was debating motions being put forward to the 2018 National Delegate Conference from various committees as well as some of the arrangements. Some of you may know that 2018 marks UNISONs 25th anniversary, which will form the main theme of this year’s conference. Also this year marks 100 years since women won the right to vote and 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement, which will also form part of this year’s conference.

The NEC agreed to put forward 12 motions for debate at the NDC;

  • Reshaping and resourcing our union
  • Promoting the union as an organising union
  • Learning for the future
  • Workers’ rights in Turkey
  • Modern slavery
  • Public Service Champions 2018/19
  • The UK/EU withdrawal agreement and the future of the UK/EU relationship: campaigning for a new EU deal fit for workers
  • Cuts to our safety net
  • Education is a public service
  • The crisis in health and social care
  • Pay Up Now! Real pay rises for all public service workers
  • Tackling xenophobia and the far right.

Political Fund

The NEC agreed proposed changes to the union’s rules around the political fund to bring the union in line with measures in the Trade Union Act, which will now go to NDC.

The proposals were developed during a two-year consultation process and have been agreed by Labour Link Forum and the General Political Fund Committee.

A new application form is being produced and sent to all branches, with instructions to destroy all old UNISON application forms to ensure the union complies with the legislation around the political funds as well as the new rules on data protection, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

General Secretary’s Report

The NEC agreed with General Secretary Dave Prentis that a message of solidarity should be sent to striking Birmingham Homecare Workers who are taking action against 40% cuts to the service. Also a message will be sent to UNISON members working at Northamptonshire County, which has recently invoked a section 114 notice warning of an impending financial crisis.

Over 650 black members attended this year’s UNISON Black Members Conference; the biggest meeting of black members in Europe. The conference debated tackling racism and inequality, especially in a post Brexit world.  The General Secretary updated the NEC that UNISON is proud to be involved with a number of anti-racism groups.

Over 850 women attended the UNISON Women’s Conference and debated issues directly impacting women and how our union can move forward in tackling those issues.

National Demonstrations

The General Secretary updated the NEC on significant demonstrations that will be happening in 2018 including;

  • Saturday 12th May 2018, which is going to be a major TUC organised national demonstration in London that will be family friendly. Numbers attending should be substantial and UNISON members will form a major part.
  • Saturday 30th June 2018 may also be a date for the diary for another major demonstration, but is yet to be confirmed.

Organising Update

UNISON is looking at an overall increase across the union in membership, although not every region has seen an increase. Private sector membership continues to increase by 4,000 members with the majority of public sector membership losses being in Local Government. Young member recruitment has been increasing year on year with over 16,000 young members joining in 2017 alone, but the priority is now to get those young members involved and active within our union.

PCSO Day of Action: UNISON Leading the Way!

The 5 hour drive to Norwich was worth it. I was proud to join activists from across the country in taking the fight for Norfolk Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) jobs to the streets.

We sent a strong message to Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith that the governments priority should be cutting crime and not cutting all PCSOs in Norfolk.

I joined UNISON Eastern Regional Secretary Chris Jenkinson who has been leading the high profile campaign and UNISON National Officers for Police and Justice Ben Priestley and Dave Bryant. Together we delivered leaflets to every home in Chloe Smiths constituency to let residents know what a disaster the decision will be for them.

It was great to join Shadow Police Minister Louise Haigh MP and local MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis. Louise has earned a great deal of respect from the police community due to her in depth knowledge of the service and for her relentless campaigning for a properly funded police service. Therefore it was no surprise that Louise joined us to deliver leaflets.

UNISON Eastern Region should be proud of the campaign they are running against these backwards PCSO cuts. Once again UNISON are leading the way in fighting for our public services and the safety of our communities.

Louise Haigh MP

It was a pleasure to welcome Shadow Policing Minister and MP for Sheffield Louise Haigh to our UNISON branch.

Louise met two of our Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and a Control Room Dispatcher in our UNISON office where she heard about how government cuts have impacted their job, communities and them as individuals.

Louise also met with Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter and Police Officers involved in early intervention within Humberside Police.

UNISON NEC October 2017

I am pleased to report back on my second full NEC meeting since being elected. As you would expect the main topic of debate was pay and how we are going to achieve fair pay for our members after a pay cap that has lasted more than 7 years!

Tribute to Rodney Bickerstaffe

General Secretary Dave Prentis opened the NEC with tributes to former General Secretary of UNISON and NUPE Rodney Bickerstaffe who sadly passed away earlier in October. Rodney was as a giant of the trade union movement and was responsible for the introduction of the statutory minimum wage and indeed the creation of UNISON.

Organising Update

The NEC received an update that overall membership recruitment is up with 29% of new joiners coming from the private and voluntary sector. We heard how organising in the private and voluntary sector is difficult with approximately 180,000 members in these sectors.

Pay Up Now Campaign

Assistant General Secretary Christina McAnea updated the NEC on the Pay Up Now campaign, which has received a great deal of positive feedback. Regions and branches across the union are running campaign events and working with the TUC to organise these for maximum impact.

The General Secretary Dave Prentis said the campaign has two parts;

1. A political campaign, including rallies and demonstrations around the country and pressure on MPs, culminating in the joint union lobby of parliament the day before, with a rally.

2. An industrial campaign. The NEC agreed that we have to build up pressure and convince members of the importance of fighting for decent pay.

Recent Victories!

The 20-month Glasgow Janitors dispute which won a 6% pay raise for the affected members, and a victory in Salford which saw an 11% increase for Social Care Workers.

And just days before the NEC meeting, Teaching Assistant members in Durham voted to accept an offer from employers – voting yes by 62% on 57% turn-out – to end a long running dispute.

The NEC meeting also;

• Approved the union’s accounts for the first eight months of the year.

• Received an update on work to protect the union’s income under changes to the DOCAS, or check-off system, where members’ subscriptions are deducted from wages, which the Trade Union Act says must be in place by March 2018.

• Received an update on changes to the union’s political fund rules also required by the Trade Union Act.

• Urged members to take part in Saturday’s Stand Up to Racism national conference in London.

• Agreed to send a solidarity message to porters at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, who are taking action over proposals to impose 12-hour shifts.

• Agreed to a message of support for Lancashire County branch, who had their facility time removed.

Labour Party Conference 2017

The conference seemed to be full for most of the time with a lot of people wanting to get involved by speaking on motions. I understand in excess of 11,000 party members attended.

Unfortunately the management of speakers from the floor was somewhat chaotic and was no way as well managed as our own UNISON national conference. Many speakers were allowed to speak on subjects not relevant to the motion and regularly ran over time, with little or no intervention from the chair. I am proud to say that UNISON speakers were professional, stayed within the time limits and were relevant to the motions being debated.

We had a good number of speakers from UNISON by the end of the conference on a variety of motions. Firstly Ken Curran spoke about the cuts to vital public services and I spoke about cuts to policing and the privatisation of the probation service.

I enjoyed hearing from General Secretary Iain McNicol who spoke about the campaign around the last general election and Deputy Leader Tom Watson who attempted to encourage unity within the party. Both speeches were energetic and passionate.

On the Monday our General Secretary Dave Prentis opened up the debate on public sector pay demanding fair pay for all public sector workers – not just front line emergency services that we see on television, but ALL public sector workers.

A number of speakers quite rightly paid tribute to the outstanding work of the emergency services and other public sector workers involved in terrorist attacks in London and Manchester over the past year. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also paid tribute to other workers such as Transport for London who calmly led people to safety during the recent Parsons Green incident.

As you can imagine Brexit was a major issue at this year’s conference. Many delegates from the floor and speakers from the shadow cabinet spoke about Brexit and how they felt Labour should be approaching the issue.

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the end of the conference was good; better than previous ones I thought. He said that Labour is on the threshold of power and has become the government in waiting. Like previous speakers he spoke about bringing the party together and unity; bring together the young and old together. Although I must I admit I expected to see far more young people at conference.

Corbyn put the Grenfell Tower tragedy at the heart of his speech arguing that tory deregulation and austerity contributed to the fire – a powerful message.

He made a number of policy commitments in his speech;

• Rent controls.

• Labour would ensure tenants are rehoused locally when estates are regenerated.

• Businesses will have to pay a bit more tax.

• Labour would scrap the public sector pay cap.

• Labour would change the law on organ donation so people are presumed to consent to donation unless they have opted out.

• Tuition fees would be abolished for both university and further education students.

• Reformed (improved) collective bargaining in the workplace.

• Re-commitment to re-take utilities into public ownership.

• Re-nationalisation of the railways.

Corbyn’s speech was bold and confident and was well received by conference. The majority of his speech was going over the current manifesto and contained some new policies that appeal to the public sector and low paid. Although he said in his speech that Labour is now the new political mainstream I think he missed an opportunity to speak to those outside of Labour’s fold and to businesses – to secure those much needed extra votes.