Austerity and devolution

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2012 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2012

In Motion 106 carried at the 2011 National Delegate Conference we called on UNISON to develop a powerful campaign of strategic political action, strategic industrial action, strategic legal challenge and direct action by local communities to create the widest possible engagement of the people in response to the UK government’s attack on the welfare state and public services.

In pursuit of our whole union strategic campaign UNISON recognises that we are dealing with four governments, each with different powers. This requires a range of strategic responses which at various times will be led by the relevant region or group of regions, by the centre or by a combination of all.

For example, responsibility for public sector pensions is devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Employment laws are devolved in Northern Ireland but not elsewhere. The welfare benefits system is devolved in Northern Ireland, albeit with strict parity requirements.

In each jurisdiction, we have very different forms of government including single parties in majority, coalitions, and enforced coalitions with up to nine political parties holding power throughout the various political systems.

The complex political systems with which UNISON is required to engage also requires significant change in the way we do our own business if we are to preserve the welfare state and protect our members from the race to the bottom through, for example, the imposition of regional pay.

This motion calls on the National Executive Council to review urgently the adjustments necessary within UNISON to ensure that we are fit for purpose in our goal to be an agent of social change for all our members in all jurisdictions.