Just over 3000 delegates met in Glasgow for Unison’s National Delegate Conference, 16-19 June.
The conference was taking place in the midst of two disputes with Glasgow City Council, as well as strikes involving members at London Met and Barnet Council.
The Glasgow homelessness caseworkers remain on strike and a large rally on the Thursday of around 1000 delegates saw activists take to George Square to protest against the actions of the Council with speakers including a striker, the Glasgow City Unison Branch Secretary, and Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis and a victimised rep, Robert O’Donnell, who worked at conference venue, SECC.
Delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion to condemn the actions of the SECC and to remove it from the list of approved venues for Unison unless recognition is granted and Robert reinstated.
Dave Prentis addressed conference (speech at: unisonactive.blogspot) noting that Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy would make the election for Labour leader more interesting but not committing to supporting him.
Most of the rest of the speech appeared vacuous from a leader who has refused to fight for members and has backed down during every major dispute.
On conference floor itself there was little of controversy, with almost the entirety of motions discussed being passed unanimously. Once again through a complicated process of prioritisation through the regions, NEC, branches and self organised groups, some of the more controversial motions which would have sparked more lively debate were not heard. These included a motion from Lambeth on branch funding which would seek to empower branches to have greater access to Unison’s membership subs and a motion from Newcastle City branch “A Europe fit for workers”, supported by Workers’ Liberty delegates, which would have committed Unison to campaign for a vote to remain within the EU in the upcoming referendum.
A motion setting out Unison guidelines on “Gendered violence against women” was finally passed after several years of undemocratic stalling and dismissal by the Unison leadership and some sections of the left. More speakers attempted to speak on this than on any other motion. The motion passed unanimously on Wednesday afternoon.
Outside of conference Workers’ Liberty delegates distributed our bulletin and sold Solidarity. We were also heavily involved in building support for Jeremy Corbyn to get on the ballot during Local Government conference and in building a fringe meeting for Unison members during the national delegate conference. 45 delegates and other supporters attended the STUC fringe meeting to hear speakers including Bernie Gallagher of Unison NEC and Neil Findlay MSP discuss getting Unison to commit to support Corbyn and the importance of supporting a fight in the labour movement for affiliated unions to back Corbyn.
120 people attended a hustings to try and decide a single left candidate for General Secretary (a report can be found here). Workers’ Liberty Unison members will continue to discuss our attitude to the General Secretary election.
However whether there will even be a General Secretary election has been called into question (see here).