EU campaign will focus on NHS and racism around migration, NEC

UNISON executive prepares for EU referendum and union conference

UNISON will concentrate on key issues in the final two weeks of the EU referendum: the NHS and tackling the racism that is raising its head in discussions on immigration, the union’s national executive council heard this morning.

“The work of our union has been tremendous on the issue and we will deal with racism whenever it is raised, by all sides,” general secretary Dave Prentis told the meeting in London.

UNISON is running its own campaign, based on facts, to argue the case for a vote to remain in the EU, after consulting members.

Assistant general secretary Liz Snape told the meeting that polls showed a very close vote on 23 June, with 11% of the voting public undecided.

She added that 1.6 million people had registered to vote since the campaign launched – 10% of whom had been contacted by or seen the union’s campaign aimed at members.

The executive also agreed the union needs to start discussions on increasing turn-out in industrial action ballots after the government’s Trade Union Act became law.

“This is still absolutely dreadful legislation in terms of industrial action,” Mr Prentis said.

But he praised the campaigning work done across the union to mitigate the bill, pointing out that “where we were to where we finished up was a tremendous job and a credit to our union.

“But there is still work to be done.”


On its last regular meeting before the union’s annual conference in Brighton, the NEC also:

  • agreed its policy toward deferred motions and rule amendments, motions readmitted to the agenda, amendments to motions, and composite motions and amendments;
  • agreed a change of policy on motion 83;
  • agreed to submit an emergency motion on the Trade Union Act;
  • agreed to seek withdrawal of proposed rule amendment J, designed to deal with an attack on political in the Trade Union Bill which was dropped before it became an Act;
  • received reports on conference planning and the draft order of business;
  • approved the union financial statement for 2015 and accounts for the first three months of this year.


The NEC also heard an update on pay and negotiations across the union’s sectors and agreed to sent a message of support to library workers in Barnet, who are scheduled to mount a three-day strike from Monday against cuts and privatisation plans in the north London borough.

In other business, the meeting heard that there had been a slight drop in membership figures in April, the latest month for which figures are available, although the month’s recruitment was 12% higher than in 2015 and ’14.