Thursday 31 July 2008

UNITE's IT & Communications sector

Along with three members of the UNITE National Sector Committee for Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT (EEE&IT), I attended a meeting on Monday with Peter Skyte, our National Officer, and two Assistant General Secretaries - Les Bayliss and Doug Collins.

The meeting was in response to the motion passed unanimously at the EEE&IT national sector conference opposing the inclusion of a disproportionate number of managers from an unrelated industry in UNITE's new "IT and Communications" sector.

Members are concerned that putting the Communication Managers Association (CMA), which represents managers in Royal Mail and the Post Officer in the sector will prevent it being as effective as we want in involving and representing workers in the IT and Telecommunications industries.

We all left the meeting disappointed. They seemed to feel that the activists in the industry had to convince them, and provide "evidence" of problems - a tall order when the new sector hasn't been created yet. How can members provide evidence of problems we are still trying to avoid?

It's a sign of how much change we still need in the culture of UNITE when officers think that members have to convince them of what needs doing, rather than the views of the members affected carrying most weight.

The one real surprise of the meeting was the news that Paul Reuter, currently the National Officer covering the Federation of Professional Associations (FPA) as well as the CMA, would continue covering the CMA within the new IT & Communications sector. This must have been decided (who by?) since the last EC meeting, as it doesn't appear on the officer allocation list agreed by the EC.

Les and Doug did undertake to consider what could be done to avoid members' fears becoming a reality and come back to us with a response, so watch this space...

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