Sunday, 13 July 2008

Electrical Engineering, Electronics & IT National Sector Conference Report

At last week's UNITE Executive Council, I asked why the decisions of the Amicus sector conferences hadn't been put on the union web site or circulated. The General Secretary promised to follow this up.

In the meantime, I thought it might be useful to publish my own report of the decisions (below), along with the report presented by our National Officer, Peter Skyte, on action taken as a result of the decisions of the 2006 conference.

Decisions of the UNITE-Amicus EEE&IT National Sector Conference 2008

Please note that this is not an official report, but a personal one by Ian Allinson. If you have any corrections, please contact me via

Election of chair:

Sean Leahy

Election of delegates to TUC conference 2008:

Pauline Bradburn

Martin Gleeson (reserve)

Election of National Sector Committee:

1. John Clark, North East, Electrolux

2. John Garvani, Yorkshire & Humberside, Fujitsu

3. Sally Pirrie, East Midlands, IPSL

4. Colin Walker, East Midlands, CSC

5. Paul Welsh, East Midlands, Brush Electrical Machines

6. Philip Brown, Eastern, Raytheon Systems

7. Paul Fleming, London, EDS

8. Anneke Cox, South East, Philips Healthcare

9. Paul Rickard, South East, Ericsson

10. Colin Gosling, South West, Siemens Traffic Controls

11. Sean Leahy, West Midlands, Ericsson

12. Pauline Bradburn, North West, Fujitsu

13. Jackie Cook, North West, Fujitsu

14. Martin Gleeson, North West, Zetex

15. Tony Boyle, Scotland, CSC

16. Ronnie Mackenzie, Scotland, NCR

17. Stanley Freeney, Ireland, Nortel

18. James MacNiece, Ireland

19. Glyn Haynes, Wales, Eaton Electric

20. Stephen Needs, Wales, Panasonic Communications

This National Sector Committee will have a short term of office, as the new rulebook (including new sectors and sector structures) is expected to come into force on 1st November 2008, after which a new round of conferences etc will be required to populate the new structures.

Peter Skyte, the National Officer, confirmed that the EC member for the sector could take part in National Sector Committee meetings.

The following sector motions were passed:

1. WORKING TIME (from Wales)

This conference applauds the significant reduction in working time that was achieved in companies across the manufacturing sector following the CSEU 35 hour working week campaign in 1989.

Furthermore we recognise that working time in the Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT sector is well above the average in the wider manufacturing sector.

We call upon the NEC to develop a national campaign to reduce the working time within the Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT sector.

3. PENSIONS IN THE EEE & IT SECTOR (from South East)

We are clearly seeing a new wave of attacks on occupational pensions in the EEE & IT sector. We believe the sector pension's workshop was a valuable initiative to promote a well-informed and co-ordinated union response. We call on our national officers to ensure that the regional national sector structures are actively used to mobilise moral, practical and financial support for any group of members in the sector taking action in defence of their pensions.


This conference notes that manufacturing sites, which are a key part of the Sector, continue to be closed, with work and jobs off-shored. Whilst savings may be made by companies, the costs are usually borne by the workers affected, local communities, tax payers and in damage to the environment.

Whilst manufacturers focus on the environmental friendliness of production, they ignore the environmental impact of transportation of manufactured goods from other parts of the world to service UK customers once served by UK factories, as highlighted by the closure of the Electrolux Cooker factory in the North East.

This conference calls on the National Sector Committee to:

1) Develop a strategy for "Greening the Sector"

2) Campaign for employers to publish and take into account environmental impacts, including carbon footprints, when considering the closure and off¬shoring of workplaces.

3) Work with Trade Unions internationally in supporting manufacturing and for companies to be held accountable for the environment impacts of their actions.

5. CLIMATE CHANGE (from London)

This conference believes it is important that the trade union movement takes up the question of climate change. Climate change will always have the greatest impact on the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society. Trade unions have a central role to play both in developing just and equitable solutions to climate change and also in building a mass movement around the issue.

Conference believes that our sector has a particular responsibility in tackling climate change as the industries we cover are both significant users of energy and the creators of products that themselves consume significant quantities of energy, therefore significantly contributing to the carbon footprint.

Conference welcomes the decision of the National Sector Committee to send a delegation to the Trade Union Conference organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.

Conference calls on the National Sector Committee to continue to work with the Campaign and its Climate Change Trade Union Working Group.

Conference calls on the National Sector Committee to develop a set of policies for the sector designed to reduce the carbon footprint for which our industries are responsible, while, at the same time, protecting jobs and conditions.

Conference calls on the National Sector Committee to examine and promote the establishment of Environmental Reps in our workplaces.

6. ORGANISING IN THE EEE & IT SECTOR (from Yorkshire & Humberside)

This conference regrets the loss of an organiser assigned to our sector and calls on the union to replace this resource as soon as possible. We welcome the initiative where leading reps in the IT industry have taken responsibility for working on their parts of the Sector organising plan and developing plans for their company alongside their officers and organise. Given that the IT industry is one of the key organising targets for UNITE, it is vital that this approach should continue to develop.

We call on our National Officer to facilitate leading reps in the Non-IT parts of the sector to work on their parts of the sector organising plan, so that the plan as a whole can be updated and developed.


Conference notes with concern the increasing amount of evidence showing a possible link between deaths due to specific types of cancer and working in the semiconductor industry. Despite a feasibility study commissioned by the HSE in 2005, which recommended that an industry wide study be commissioned, no actions have been implemented to bring this about.

Conference commends Unite - Amicus for leading a delegation to the DWP to press for action on the study, and calls on the union to persevere until a properly independent research team is assigned to the task.

The semiconductor industry has developed a large number of speciality chemicals over many years, and the effects of long-term exposure are in many cases unknown. In recent years there has been a rapid increase in new materials used in semiconductor fabrication - particularly metals used for interconnections. Again, the industry has not given long-term exposure effects a high priority, and this may have an effect on workers in related industries in the electronics sector.

Conference calls on the union to campaign for more stringent evaluations of chemicals and materials used in the semiconductor industry in relation to their long term effects on worker health. A negative or inconclusive result from the cancer study should not be allowed to prevent his being taken forward.


This conference notes that with the formation of Unite, the rules commission is charged with drawing up a new rulebook which the first Unite executive council will put to a ballot of members. The rulebook, which will include a new sector structure which is unlikely to replicate previous structures in either Amicus or TGWU.

This conference notes that the rules commission has considered sectors such as "electrical engineering and electronics" and "Communications and IT" as part of the new structure. Though this conference has no objection to such a reorganisation in principle, we are deeply concerned at suggestions that the communication managers association (CMA) would form part a large part of the communications and it sector. The CMA is mainly composed of managers in Royal Mail.

It is always welcome when managers in any industry are unionised, but believe that no group of unionised workers would accept their union structure having a disproportionate management influence. This conference can see no industrial logic in grouping Royal Mail managers with IT workers, and believe that such a grouping would significantly impair our ability to pursue the organising and campaigning approach necessary for the union to take advantage of the opportunities for growth in the IT industry.

This conference resolves to seek the support of everyone in the union to ensure that members employed in the IT industry belong to a sector that does not include a disproportionate body of managers.

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