UNISON Organisation in the Energy Industry

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2011 Energy Service Group Conference
25 February 2011

Conference believes that it is essential that the United Kingdom has a sustainable energy policy that ensures security of supply, affordability and environmental protection.

Conference notes the failure of the last and present Governments to promote positively clean coal technology and is concerned that the cuts in public expenditure will seriously increase the number of households in fuel poverty and undermine energy efficiency programmes e.g. the abolition of Warm Front. Similarly progress on achieving renewable energy targets and creating green jobs do not appear to be high on the Coalition Government’s priorities.

Conference notes that, despite the position adopted by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties when in opposition, the Coalition Government is actively supporting the construction of new nuclear power stations. The acquisition of British Energy by EDF which has sold its networks business in order to concentrate on being a nuclear operator and the formation of a joint venture company by EON and RWE to build nuclear stations in the UK are two important developments. Other energy companies e.g. Centrica, SSE and Scottish Power’s owner Iberdrola are actively assessing their options.

As a result, although UNISON members largely work in customer service functions the majority of them now find that they are working for companies with an interest in nuclear power.

UNISON activists work hard to recruit new members and retain existing members but in companies with a nuclear interest UNISON will find that the current policy of opposition to new nuclear build puts them at a disadvantage to other unions in the sector. Conference believes that any increase in recruitment by Unite, GMB and Prospect in this area would give them a strategic advantage and a platform to recruit in other areas.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive to:

i) Take steps to improve UNISON’s profile in the energy sector to withstand recruitment challenges from the other unions.

ii) Develop, in consultation with branches, an assessment of UNISON energy policy’s impact on energy branches and the recruitment of members.

iii) Promote a review of UNISON’s energy policy and objectives through the appropriate lay structures of the union in the event that the assessment exposes threats to UNISON’s organisation ,recruitment and ability to represent members in the Energy Service Group.