UNISON’s special delegate conference today voted to pass the two-year work of the branch resources review, with its blueprint for helping branches to better organise in the future.
The motion was proposed by UNISON president Josie Bird, who also led the review team of 24 lay members. Their work took into account the results of a branch survey, interviews with branch secretaries and conversations with over 3,000 activists in over 50 events.
Ms Bird told the online delegates: “Branches are not just a definition in our rulebook, but made up of activists, like yourself, who volunteer their time to help others.
“That time is precious and in our survey of branches you told us you needed more time for activists, regional support when you need it, more funds for your branch.
“The union needs to modernise, and services to branches must be at the front of that queue.”
A major part of the review is a branch funding formula that ensures that every branch, whatever its size, receives the financial support it need to organise.
Ms Bird also highlighted a new facility time strategy that “opens the door to everything” and a lay member implementation group.
In supporting the motion, Lillian Macer of UNISON Scotland said that the proposed new branch support and organising fund had “the ability to affect transformational change” with flexibility to meet the needs of both branches and regions. “What’s not to like about that?”
At the core of the proposals is a shift in resources towards branches by:
- Improving support and services to branches;
- An improved funding scheme that supports branches under financial pressure and recognises today’s public service reality of fragmented employers;
- The creation of a new Branch Support and Organising Fund to get additional and varied resources closer to branches, and grow the union.
In that context, conference called on the National Executive Council to implement the following five points from the start of the next financial year (1 January 2022):
- Introduce a new and improved funding formula and scheme for branches, which establishes a new Branch Support and Organising Fund at 2% of national subscription income, which would replace the current Regional Pool and Fighting Fund, and a total funding package of 25.5%;
- Subsidise the monthly fees for the new CaseWeb system by 50% for branches who voluntarily subscribe to CaseWeb with 2,000 members or less;
- Establish a new procurement service to support branches in purchasing goods and services;
- Support online meetings at all levels of the union, recognising any reasonable adjustments necessary, in order to generate funds to help branches, widen participation and meet our environmental goals;
- Confirm physical annual conferences will return after the pandemic and make improvements to UNISON conference arrangements to help branches – such as offering a booking service for hotels and travel, and a reasonable adjustment shared pooling fund for disabled delegates, as a first step towards an eventual reasonable adjustments shared pool for UNISON events and meetings at all levels of the union.