“We need to step up, become stronger and focus on our members,” general secretary Dave Prentis told the first meeting of UNISON’s executive since the general election today.
He noted that the new government’s Queen’s Speech contained 42 bills, most of which will have some impact on UNISON members, public servicers or the union itself.
The NEC expressed particular concern of the government’s planned trade union bill, which will make it much more difficult for union members to take action in defence of their jobs, pay and condition.
“The job of this union now is to resist,” said Mr Prentis. “We will become the voice of the people left behind by this government.”
And the preparation for that starts now, the executive decided, stressing the need to recruit and organise members and develop new union activists and reps.
It agreed two emergency motions to submit to the union’s national delegate conference in a little less than a fortnight’s time: one on the organisational steps needed to prepare the union for the attacks coming and one on the political and campaigning response needed after the general election result.
Immediately, that involves maximising support for the marches against austerity on 20 June in London and Glasgow.
The meeting also finalised NDC business at its last regular meeting before the conference, including:
- deciding its policy toward outstanding motions and rule amendments;
- deciding policy on submitted amendments to motions, composite motions and amendments to composites;
- receiving a report on the draft order of business draw up by the NDC a standing orders committee;
- receiving an update on conference planning.
In addition, the NEC approved the financial statement for the 2014 financial year, along with the management accounts for the first three months of 2015.
On top of that, the NEC received updates on pay, bargaining and industrial action across the union’s service groups, including probation staff in England and Wales, who are due to stage a national strike later this month and higher education staff who are being consulted on the latest pay offer.
The meeting particularly noted members working for Barnet council in north London who have just staged their second two-day strike against outsourcing – in a dispute that Mr Prentis said “has national implication” – and Glasgow homeless workers who have been on indefinite strike since 31 March.
The NEC sent messages of solidarity to members involved in both disputes, and to members at London Metropolitan University who are on strike tomorrow.
The latest report on recruitment showed that there is still a net loss of members so far this year, but this is lower than last year as a result of better recruitment figures.
This is particularly so for young members, whose recruitment in May was 80% higher than for the same month in 2014.