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.
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.
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.