Make Poverty History

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2005 National Delegate Conference
8 June 2005

Conference welcomes and supports the 2005 Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign.

Conference affirms that it is a fundamental role of trade unions to organise and campaign to ensure sufficient income and appropriate support from public services for all to live a decent life, free from poverty.

Trade unions, aid agencies, campaigning organisations and faith organisations are working in coalition to put unprecedented pressure on the governments of the G8 countries, in particular the United Kingdom (UK) government, to bring about progress on trade, aid and debt.

Conference notes with concern that the UK government has positioned itself as a champion of privatisation in developing countries and believes that the Department for International Development’s commitment to the privatisation of public services is incompatible with its stated commitment to poverty reduction and realisation of the millennium development goals.

Conference believes that 2005 is a crucial year to influence the UK government on international issues because:

1)the UK government hosts the G8 summit in July, in Scotland;

2)the UK holds the presidency of the European Union;

3)the United Nations (UN) summit of world leaders on the Millennium Development Goals takes place in September;

4)2005 is the 20th anniversary of Live Aid.

Conference supports the three key policy demands of the MPH campaign, all issues on which UNISON has campaigned over the years:

a)drop the debt – UNISON played a major role in the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel all the unpayable debt of the world’s poorest countries. 90 per cent of this debt is still not cancelled. The 2005 campaign aims to get this issue back on the political agenda;

b)more and better aid – countries have agreed to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on development aid. Many countries, including the UK, fall well below this level. MPH is calling for the UK to meet this target by 2010. For aid to really reduce poverty, it is also crucial that it is of the highest quality and delivered in the most effective way. Therefore the campaign will also be calling for aid which is not conditional on neo-liberal economic reforms, such as privatisation, or tied to UK business contracts;

c)trade justice – UNISON has been a member of the Trade Justice Movement (TJM) since June 2003. TJM is coordinating the 2005 campaign’s trade demands. These include eliminating export subsidies, calling on the IMF and world bank to stop imposing trade conditions on poor countries, demanding that the European Union withdraw its demand that water is included in GATS and ensuring that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) does not undercut International Labour Organisation (ILO) labour agreements.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

i.continue to ensure that UNISON plays an active role in the MPH coalition; with the Trade Union Congress and other trade unions on MPH to ensure that labour issues are included; closely with our sister unions in developing countries and the international trade union movement;

iv.publicise the work of the campaign through UNISON’s communications ensuring all branches and regions are fully briefed on the campaign to actively support it;

v.lobby the UK government on the trade, aid and debt demands of the campaign throughout 2005;

vi.encourage UNISON members to participate in the demonstration at the G8 summit on July 2 in Edinburgh; a full and active part in events and mobilisations during the G8 summit

viii.encourage UNISON members to wear white armbands, the symbol of the campaign;

ix.encourage UNISON members to take part in other MPH activities, for example the global day of action on the millennium development goals in September and around the WTO trade talks in December.

x.use the campaign to provide organising opportunities in the workplace by, for example, linking it to UNISON’s work on challenging poverty in the UK;