UNISON members and public services are going through crisis after crisis, the union’s national executive council heard this morning.
“Eight years after the rich and powerful crashed our economy, it is still our people who are paying the price,” general secretary Dave Prentis told the meeting in London.
“This makes it all the more important that the union is strong and focused on looking after our members.”
And it is for that reason that the next month is particularly important, added Mr Prentis.
UNISON has been to the fore in building alliances around the Trade Union Bill, which have led to victories in the House of Lords. Within the next week peers are expected to vote on the final key issue – the attempt to ban public sector employers from deducting and collecting union membership fees from wages.
This will almost certainly be followed by “parliamentary ping-pong” when the bill goes back to the Commons, as government MPs will try to overturn Lords amendments which remove some of the bill’s worse aspects.
But the government faces a tight deadline to get the legislation completed by the Queen’s speech on 18 May.
Given the challenges ahead, the NEC was heartened to receive encouraging recruitment and membership figures, which saw net membership increasing by 1,984 in March.
However, continuing cuts to members’ jobs and potential problems from the Trade Union Bill mean there is no room for complacency, the executive agreed.
The meeting also agreed to campaign for a ‘remain’ vote in June’s EU referendum, following a six-week consultation with members.
The union’s campaign will seek to provide balanced information to members and set out a vision of much needed reform of the EU that would benefit working people, the union and members.
The executive was also updated on pay campaigns and bargaining across the areas and occupations in which UNISON members work.
And it received an update on planning for the union’s national delegate conference, taking place in Brighton in June.
As part of its preparations for conference, the executive:
- decided its provisional policy on motions and proposed rule amendments submitted to conference;
- agreed the amendments to motions it will submit to conference;
- signed off the draft annual report;
- agreed to propose motions and rule changes to be prioritised for debate.