My speech to UNISON National Delegate conference 2014 #uNDC14 that didn't get heard (too far down the agenda in the rule amendments debate).
As members of the Development and Organisation (D&O) sub committee of the NEC we are allocated speeches as NEC members on proposed rule amendments by the UNISON Presidential team. This was a rule amendment (D&O committee is responsible for recommending policy on Rule amendments to the full NEC) that was opposed by the NEC and that I was happy to speak against.
Tony Wilson, NEC speaking against proposed Rule amendment 10 which seeks to extend the requirements of nominations for Service Group Executives by changing Rule number D3.5.10.
Currently anyone can be nominated to stand for election to the Service Group Executive and be a candidate if they have been 'nominated by at least one branch from within the Regional Service Group or by a Regional Self organised Group'.
The proposed change would mean that the bar would be pushed a little higher that is to say someone seeking nomination would need either 2 branches from within the Region OR nominations from one branch and one self organised group. It also clarifies that only members within that service group can vote within the self organised group.
At first glance this can seem reasonable, however this could prove problematic for some members of smaller service groups in some Regions. It is possible due to changes and mergers some service groups and sectors only have one branch within a Region. Therefore for someone in that one branch they could only get a nomination if nominated by a self organised group and no service group can guarantee they have members on that Regional self organised group.
The NEC believes an unintended consequence could be that if passed this rule could become unworkable in some areas and restrict democracy in the union by making it harder for candidates to put themselves forward. It can be difficult already for members with the time and energy required to take up higher office within the union. We don't want to make it still harder for members.
We believe as a union it's important for the democracy and participation within the union that ordinary members are encouraged to be part of the top table whether it's the NEC or Service Group Executive. None of us are there by right.
Also it is not the case that that Service Group Executive seats are often contested by multiple candidates.
The process of election to Service Group Executives and NEC can be complicated and we don't want any additional complications.
Conference, the NEC believes this rule amendment if carried could create difficulties for smaller service groups and would be detrimental to the democracy of the union. Please oppose. Thank you.