Newly elected NEC gets down to business

Local government funding and Brexit dominate debates at first business meeting

UNISON sign at the union's centre in London

UNISON’s new national executive council got down to planning for the future today when it held its first business meeting since the union’s national conference a fortnight ago.

Events since conference had been dominated by “the Tory leadership kicking each other to bits,” noted general secretary Dave Prentis.

He noted that the two contenders for the leadership had promised £64bn in hand-outs to rich. But if that money was available, he asked “why have we had austerity for such a long time? Why are vulnerable people suffering? Why are the elderly suffering?”

And Mr Prentis noted that there had not been a single comment on local government, which had seen a 50% cut in money. “They do not even mention what our local communities and local community services are going through.”

With more and more councils facing the risk of going bankrupt, as has happened with Conservative controlled Northamptonshire county, he declared, “this is a big issue for our union.”

And, he told the meeting, it’s one he will be raising tomorrow when he speaks to the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth.

The NEC called on branches across the union to mobilise for the 29 September protest and march at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

Find out more about the march

Another big issues dominating discussion is Brexit. Although UNISON had a very clear idea of the Brexit deal that would protect members’ jobs and interests – including a customs union and single market – that has fallen by the wayside, said Mr Prentis, and the realistic prospect now is either a no deal or bad Tory deal Brexit.

“If this is the case, then it is only right we go back to the people,” he said. And while UNISON wants a general election, that is not in the union’s gift, he noted: especially under the Fixed Term Parliaments act.

The NEC also agreed UNISON’s nominations for the TUC general council: Josie Bird, Davena Ranking, Chris Tansley, Dave Prentis, Liz Snape, Roger McKenzie and Gloria Mills.

And it nominated James Anthony to the TUC general purposes committee.

In addition, the meeting elected members to the various NEC strategic committees: policy and campaigns; development and organisation; international; industrial action; finance and resource management; staffing and services to members. Relevant members also elected NEC representatives to the Labour Link and Campaign Fund national committees.