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.

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.


In June I was elected as the Yorkshire and Humberside male seat representative on UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC). This is the first time I have stood to be a member of our NEC, so I am sure you can understand when I say I am quite proud to have won the election! I am extremely grateful to those members who voted for me and to those branches who nominated me. I hope I can increase both next time.

This election saw a big shake up of the NEC with a lot of new members being elected, replacing some experienced members of our union such as our own Wendy Nichols who has been a formidable voice for our members on the NEC for some time.

Elected Presidential Team 2017-19

The first meeting of the 2017-2019 NEC was immediately following the National Delegate Conference in Brighton in June. This meeting was to elect our lay presidential team for the next two years. I was pleased that Margaret McKee was elected President, Gordon McKay was elected Senior Vice-President and Josie Bird was elected Junior Vice-President.

Margaret has been a catering assistant at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for 38 years. She has been an activist for most of that time as well as Joint Chair of her branch for the past 10 years. She was also awarded the TUC women’s gold badge at the 2016 Congress in recognition of her union and community work. Gordon is from UNISON’s Ayrshire and Arran Health Branch and has worked as a Mental Health Nurse for 30 years. Josie is Branch Secretary of the Newcastle City Branch and has been employed as an administrative officer in Newcastle for 16 years. You may also know her from her work on the Finance Committee. 

First NEC Meeting

The first full NEC meeting was on Tuesday 4th July at the UNISON Centre in London. The first part of the day was made up of appointing members of the NEC to a number of strategic and functional committee’s. I was selected by the Presidential Team to serve on the Staffing Committee and Development and Organisation Committee. 


The second and last part of the day was to hear the General Secretary report, which was presented by Dave Prentis. He spoke about how members have been suffering under the public sector pay cap and how the public debate should not only be framed around our uniformed emergency services, but around all public sector workers; many of whom are often not seen.

You can see more details here: Union gears up for a summer of campaigning

The General Secretary took a number of questions from members of the NEC, although some were statements rather than questions. I do hope to see less personal statements and more focus from some NEC members next time so we can concentrate on representing our 1.3 million members.

I am in the process of writing to UNISON branches across Yorkshire and Humberside to let them know how I intend to communicate with members over the next two years to keep them updated on my NEC activities. I also welcome invitations from branch committees to speak and take questions.

Tony Green