Devolution and the Functioning of the Service Group Executive

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2008 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2007
Carried as Amended

Conference proudly acknowledges that the activists and staff who support our health members at UK, regional and branch levels are second to none in their commitment, knowledge, skill and expertise. Conference recognises the enormous amount of work that has been done for the benefit of our members and UNISON in the face of huge challenges and pressures. Conference is well aware of the particular and intense spotlight that can shine on those who comprise our UK leadership.

Conference acknowledges the responsibility of us all to support and assist those who fulfil these roles. Conference believes that the Health Service Group decision making processes, around key policy matters and issues of terms and conditions, should be positive and dynamic and therefore reviewed continuously to reflect experience and changing circumstances.

Conference notes that in 2004 UNISON national delegate conference endorsed a report on the impact of devolution on the union and, in line with Rule D 2.9.5, the NEC has published a devolution protocol for bargaining, communication and policy development. The Health Service Group Executive (SGE) needs to operate effectively, efficiently and democratically. As an example, whilst Agenda for Change is a UK agreement, the ‘four nation’ employers are increasingly undertaking their own processes, and, on occasions taking different positions. The 2007 pay award being a classic example. The SGE must be able to respond to the impact of devolution.

The SGE is expected to show strong leadership politically, organisationally and administratively in a complex environment, making sure there is synergy of the constituent parts of the Executive. With that in mind Conference calls on a review of the way the SGE operates to include the issues below and report back to Conference 2009 on recommendations for improving the functioning of the SGE.

A Review Group should be established, by the office bearers of the SGE, bringing together appropriate expertise and facilitation. Issues for consideration would include:

1)The impact of devolution and the wider more pluralist political relationships UNISON now has with administrations in the Four Countries particularly in the context of the Agenda for Change Agreement;

2)Effective partnership working between full-time and lay colleagues in taking forward all the objectives of the union, including bargaining, social partnership, policy development, organisation and recruitment;

3)Decision making protocols for the SGE to ensure adequate time for consideration of proposals with Regions and Sector Committees; informed debate, thus promoting development of clear recommendations to the wider membership on key issues;

4)Creating and maintaining effective relationships with the UK union, other sectors, regions, and branches