Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Council

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
26 September 2003

Conference notes that:

1. in 2001 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Council was enlarged to include three new sections, H, I and J, each consisting of one seat and representing, respectively, trade unionists with disabilities, lesbian and gay trade unionists and trade unionists under 27 years of age. In 2002 bisexual and transgender trade unionists were added to the definition of Section I;

2. each affiliated union may make one nomination for each of the three seats which are filled by election at congress;

3. in each of the last three years three unions which, between them, cast about 42% of the congress vote (one of them UNISON) have agreed they would each make a nomination for only one of the three seats and vote for each other’s candidates in any election;

4. within UNISON, the National Executive Council (NEC) made this arrangement without consulting the National Disabled Members’ Committee, the National Lesbian and Gay Committee or the National Young Members’ Forum. Later, they gave the assurance the arrangement was for one year only but continued it for a second year again without consultation. At Congress 2003 a proposal to vote for a different candidate in Section I was defeated. However, this decision may not have amounted to endorsing either the arrangement or the recommended candidate so much as a view that it is for a policy making body not a delegation to overturn the status quo; and,

5. earlier in 2003 the TUC General Council reviewed constitutional matters relating to equalities. UNISON’s submission was silent on the election of the General Council even though the view of the UNISON Lesbian and Gay Conference was that any review should give due weight to the views of the TUC Equality conferences and committees. The TUC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Conference’s view is that the Section I seat should be filled by election at the LGBT Conference rather than at Congress.

Conference deplores UNISON’s arrangement with the two other unions since:

A. it thwarts the TUC’s intention to grant representation to these groups of trade unionists and substitutes an additional seat each for three unions;

B. the trade unionists concerned have no say in who their representatives are to be, they cannot call them to account or change them;

C. it demeans the Congress, any election is a farce, its outcome a foregone conclusion;

D. all three unions have added to the number of the most over-represented group already on the General Council since they all nominate men; and,

E. there is no evidence that any of these areas of equalities work have advanced one step as a result.

Conference therefore agrees to withdraw from the arrangement forthwith. It instructs the National Executive Council to inform the other two unions of this decision.

It further instructs the National Executive Council to seek changes to the TUC constitution to enlarge Sections H, I and J to two seats each to provide gender balance and for the election of the General Council members in these sections by the unions’ delegates to the respective equalities conferences rather than those to Congress.

For as long as these elections continue to be held at Congress, Conference instructs the UNISON delegation to vote for candidates in sections H, I and J on their merits and to seek the advice of the National Disabled Members’ Committee, the National Lesbian and Gay Committee and the national Young Members’ Forum in order to decide how to do so.