Saturday, 10 December 2016

Personal report of the Development and Organisation (D&O) subcommittee of the UNISON NEC 16th November 2016

There was an extra item tabled on the day which was National Executive Council election procedures 2017.

Criteria had been agreed for Shop front resource centres (a way of organising in local communities and making the union visible) i.e. they served more than one branch and that resources be pooled to run a centre.

There was some discussion of the position EU (European Union) nationals find themselves in following the Brexit vote. Their right to remain depended on EU citizenship. There was a report from a meeting that had taken place of UNISON members in Norwich of members who were EU citizens and of how we tackle issues of discrimination and the reported high levels of racist abuse following the Brexit vote.
Recruitment and membership report – There was a continuing trend of a growth in private but loss in public sector membership. It was noted there was an increase in the numbers employed in schools but that we needed more activists to keep up with this. An NEC member stated that we can get activists when members are motivated because something is going on in the world as in the case of the meeting for the EU citizen UNISON members. The Labour party had doubled or tripled its size in a year and a half but this appeared to have flowed around us could we get some of the Labour Party members who were UNISON members to be more active in the union?
Trade Union subscription rates for Teaching assistants – A table was circulated comparing these. GMB had increased their subs in the last year by 50p, ATL were offering the first year of membership with a 50% reduction, UNITE offer 2 options of payment - a basic rate that offers core union facilities and an enhanced rate that entitles the member to more benefits including insurance offers. UNISON subs change according to salary, some of the other unions subs change just according to number of hours worked. There was a comment from an NEC member that at least one other union was trying to compete with UNISON by asking staff to tick the part time box on the member form so the member would pay less. It was commented that we should be competing on quality as well as price. Disputes like the Teaching assistants disputes in Derby and Durham should be highlighted where UNISON was supporting its members. There was a point made by an NEC member about using retired members as a resource - to do case work - for example. The same NEC member was not convinced about retired members doing recruitment as they would not know the workplace as currently is.
Recruiting and Organising in schools – There were more losses in schools membership than expected in October which it was stated was normally a good month. There were more support staff in schools and we should be recruiting more. The proposed merger of ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) and the NUT (National Union of teachers) was discussed. An NEC member raised the question of why we had not merged with any significant union since Vesting day (1993). Union density had declined overall in the UK in the last 20 years but this was not the case in education. Shouldn’t we be talking to NUT and ATL so we were working together and not poaching each other’s members? It was noted it was easier to recruit other union’s members who were already convinced of the need to be in a union than the portion of the workforce not in any union. Shouldn’t this be a discussion we should be having in the union?
Private Contractors forum – The first Private contractors national forum had taken place in Leeds in November 2016 (established following a rule change agreed at national delegate conference 2016) which it was stated by the national officer had been very successful. Sessions had included ones on Recruiting and Organising and Bargaining with private sector employers.
Learning and Organising report – We received figures showing the number of new stewards elected and trained and there were breakdowns by age range and ethnic origin. We also received the figures for Health and Safety reps and Union Learning reps trained. An NEC member again asked for these figures to be broken down by Service Group. These would be available for the January 2017 meeting. The North West had the second highest number of new stewards elected of any Region January – October 2016.
RMS/WARMS – There will be an assurer doing a membership audit so the union can receive a certificate from the Certification officer in 2017. Regions were aiming to ensure that the 9,000 DOCAS (Deduction of Contributions at Source) employers were data cleansed at least once a year. A mobile campaign tool had been developed and delivered to over 200 Fighting fund organisers and Organisers were beginning to use the tool. Branches would determine who would get access to the tool like the situation now with WARMS/RMS due to privacy issues etc. There would be elearning available as with WARMS but this would be much simpler than the WARMS elearning.
Budget bids were approved for Organisation and membership subcommittee of D&O, the Member Liaison Unit, Learning and Organising services, RMS and the Strategic Organising Unit.
Branches under Regional supervision – there were none from the North West.
Certification officer – There were meetings set up for 19th -21st December 2016 regarding complaints made to the Certification officer about the conduct of the General Secretary election 2015.
National Executive Council election procedures – Electoral Reform Services (ERS) had made recommendations following the General Secretary election. Branches can put out a 100 word statement when informing members who they have nominated in the NEC elections e.g. in Branch newsletters.  A photo of a candidate can be included in ballot material. There was some discussion about the timetable which some NEC members suggested was tight in the indicative timetable. This would be reviewed. There would be an extra short meeting before the next full NEC to consider these points and sign off the procedures. Every member of the NEC needed to receive the procedures by the next meeting.
An honorary life membership award was approved in the Eastern Region.