Branch Resources Review

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2014 National Delegate Conference
11 February 2014

Conference welcomes the latest Branch Resources Review.

UNISON faces ever increasing challenges provoked by the policies of this Coalition Government. The austerity agenda, with its drive to cut public spending and privatise public services, places major challenges on our organisation to mobilise major national and regional campaigns, as well as support our members in responding to local attacks to jobs, terms and conditions, and fragmentation of the services they provide. While demands upon the union to expend resources increases, the austerity agenda potentially attacks the very heart of our organisation – fewer public service workers to recruit, potential reductions in subscription income, threats to withdraw DOCAS. The need to manage wisely resources has never been so great.

Conference applauds the successful recruitment campaigns last year, and the determination of the union’s leadership to counter the threats to our income base through recruitment. This drive should continue.

Conference applauds also the union on ensuring that our number one priority has been our members – protecting their jobs, terms and conditions, and the public services they deliver to the very best of our ability.

Conference recognises that in the current financial and political climate it is essential that the union manages its finances wisely, balancing its budget, and diverting all available resources into the areas that matter most – recruitment, organisation and membership support. In doing so it is imperative that UNISON acts in a measured way, prioritising financial stability and planning, assessing and evaluating options, engaging all levels of the union before embarking upon radical change.

Branches have already made an important contribution in support of the National Executive Council with over £2m given over to the General Fighting Fund in the last two years.The Branch Resources Review rightly draws attention to this success, and to the importance of ensuring that the remaining reserves held in branches, which are still significant, should be used where possible to the benefit of members and of those sections of our organisation that are struggling most. Conference agrees that work must be done to identify mechanisms whereby these resources can be directed to support the day to day business of the union. However, more detailed work is required before such mechanisms can be agreed. Regions and branches need to be assured that:

1)Any scheme that is introduced takes into account the significant disparities that exist between branches;

2)Branches will not be penalised for adopting good housekeeping practice;

3)Minimum levels of reserves required for good branch management, and full participation in the democratic processes of the union, are defined and protected;

4)Clear processes are in place governing reallocation; consensus is achieved on how reallocated monies can be spent.

Conference notes that the proposals from the Branch Resources Review do not reduce the proportion of union resources being directed to branches.

Conference recognises the important work undertaken by the Branch Resources Review Project in recent years to provide much needed support to branches in managing their finances: National Executive Council guidance on an expenses framework, support and advice on HMRC matters, introduction of OLBA, etc. Management of branch finance reserves must build upon this. In particular, regions and branches should be consulted upon the core principles and procedural guidelines as to how branch reserves can be released as well as the strategic objectives to be achieved.

Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to:

a)Set up an Implementation Group to consult and make recommendations to the National Executive Council on the practical application of the project’s recent findings. The Implementation Group should be drawn from the National Executive Committee, regions, and branches reflecting the diverse range of branches in the union;

b)Devise a draft scheme based on the findings of the Implementation Group with a view to this being put to the National Delegate Conference by 2016.