- 2014 National Delegate Conference
- 15 February 2014
Conference notes with massive concern the ongoing savage cuts in public expenditure as a result of the Tory-led coalition government’s dogmatic pursuit of its austerity agenda. These policies have already led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs across the public sector as a whole with estimates that the overall number of public service job losses is likely to be well in excess of one million by 2018.
In this situation, it appears increasingly likely that many local councils will have only halved the directly employed workforce that they had at the time of the General Election in 2010. This disastrous situation clearly has major implications for UNISON in terms of continuing to recruit and retain members.
The unelected coalition government’s policies are also leading to the increasing fragmentation of public services as a result of ever more privatisation, outsourcing and the relentless drive toward academy status, trusts and free schools. This fragmentation is leaving more and more workers very isolated in areas where it is more difficult for UNISON to organise. It is also leaving many members in situations where it is harder for them to access support from branch activists who are frequently working for other employers and who may themselves be increasingly restricted as a result of the terms of their trade union facility agreements. This increasing fragmentation has affected all services in which UNISON organises – with sectors such as schools, social care and the voluntary sector having been particularly affected – and with many low paid women members being especially badly hit.
Conference recognises the positive work by Fighting Fund Organisers (FFOs) in strengthening UNISON’s organisation and encouraging good recruitment and campaigning practice in the face of the government’s sustained attacks. This work needs to be further developed as a key part of UNISON’s response to the developing challenges.
Conference believes that in this climate of relentless cuts and organisational challenges it is more important than ever to recruit, train and develop the skills of new activists at a time when existing activists are under ever greater pressure and in a situation where existing trade union facilities are often under increasing threat.
Conference also believes that new members will be best attracted to UNISON if it shows itself to be actively campaigning against cuts and fighting job losses. In this situation it believes our trade union needs to further consider ways in which it can better integrate its organisation, recruitment and retention strategy alongside, and as part of, these fights and campaigns.
Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:
1)Continue to campaign as visibly and vocally as possible against all service cuts, privatisations and attacks on jobs, pay and conditions of service and to maximise publicity on the devastating impact of the government’s dogmatic pursuit of its austerity agenda;
2)Co-ordinate the work of Regions, Service Groups, SOGs and Branches in campaigning against cuts and ensuring that the recruitment and organisation of new members and activists is fully integrated as part of these campaigns;
3)Ensure that the vital importance of the retention of existing members and activists is given a key organising priority as part of UNISON’s recruitment and campaigning strategy;
4)Adequately resource activities aimed at developing sustainable strategies for communicating with and supporting activists and members in fragmented and isolated work places;
5)Continue to evaluate and develop the role of Fighting Fund Organisers in assisting Branches to implement good recruitment and retention practice alongside, and as part of, vigorous and visible campaigns against cuts in jobs and services.