#uNDC15 UNISON’s National Delegate Conference, held in Glasgow from 16-19 June 2015 was all about unity this year as delegates faced up to the fight of our lives – against a Tory government hell-bent on slashing public services and cutting benefits to our most vulnerable, whilst doing nothing to ensure the richest pay their fair share in tax.
General Secretary, Dave Prentis gave an inspirational speech and got a standing ovation as he condemned a vicious and vindictive Tory government and called for unity to fight for a better future for our members. He pledged to stand shoulder to shoulder with members on strike and warned employers “if you come after our activists we will take you on. An injury to one is an injury to all.
He gave support to the Glasgow homeless care worker strikers on their eleventh week of action and on the Thursday evening conference delegates staged a big demo outside the Glasgow City Chambers in support of the striking workers.
Dave also condemned the SECC management for refusing trade union recognition and sacking UNISON steward Rab O’Donnell. Delegates to Local Government Conference had staged a protest outside the SECC earlier in the week, in support of Rab.
On the Friday conference voted to suspend standing orders to allow Rab to address conference.
Paul Moist General Secretary of CUPE,the Canadian Public Services Union in an inspiring speech, highlighted the similarities between Canada and the UK with the poor hit hardest and attacks on trade union rights and called for solidarity across borders.
“We must combat the accumulation of power that leaves so many powerless,” said Paul. “Working people must stick together.”
Homes for people not profit
Branch delegates participated fully in the debate. In her maiden speech to conference, Ann Gray told conference that homes are for people, not profits.
Seconding a composite motion which included the branch’s motion on housing and living rents, Ann said, “Now in the 21st Century we need a system of rent controls based in a living rent, security of tenure and rented housing quality standards in partnership with a public sector led house building programme to deliver homes for people, reduce welfare costs and allow rental income to be reinvested in Scotland’s infrastructure instead of being dumped in offshore tax havens.”
Give our members confidence that they can make a difference
Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden issued a challenge to all delegates, calling on them to get the message out to our members that austerity is not just bad for our members and the services we provide, but is also bad for the economy.
Kate said: “People – including many of our members – don’t believe that this Tory government has presided over the biggest mass transfer of wealth from the rest of us to the super rich, but it’s true.
“The UK has become the EU’s most unequal country with wage inequality in this country now above that of the US average. By late 2014 Chief Execs of FTSE 100 companies were paid on average 342 times more than their minimum wage employees.”
Social care staff need UNISON – and some good news from Scotland
Later Kate spoke again to tell delegates that the UNISON members in the City of Edinburgh had had their convictions for contempt quashed.
“But not only that, in the ruling the judges re-established the principle that the child’s welfare is paramount.
“We were delighted with the outcome – not just for our members but for all those vulnerable children whose care and welfare are entrusted to us. How important was it that UNISON could speak up for them?”