Friday, 10 October 2008

UNITE Executive Council meeting, 9 October 2008

I'd briefly posted previously about the planned EC meeting on 9th October. Since I wrote that the Amicus Unity Gazette (grouping with which I stood for election to the EC) came out against the intended proposals.

The Executive Council was asked to approve a single motion which included:

  1. Amendment to the Amicus Section Rules
  2. Amendments to the Unite General Rules
  3. Adoption of a timetable for an Amicus Section Joint General Secretary election
The resolution was approved with 68 votes, more than the 60 required for a rule change. I was one of a small number who actually voted against the resolution (though more were deeply unhappy with it). The decision is now made, and we all have to try to make the best of it.

You can read the actual resolution here, but I think it's worth first explaining in plainer language what this means:
  1. The new rulebook will not come into force until 1 May 2009, instead of 1 November 2008. Existing structures (including separate Amicus and TGWU sections) remain in place for now. Apart from the EC, there are no other lay-member constitutional structures.
  2. An election will take place for Derek Simpson's current job as Joint General Secretary. Nominations will be in November-December, voting February-March. The term of office will be from 23 December 2009 to 23 December 2010.
  3. The Amicus section rules are changed to allow Derek to stand despite his age.
Everyone on both sides of the argument is frustrated that we are facing this distraction from the real business of the union, especially in such turbulent times when members need the full strength of UNITE behind them.

There is an official UNITE press release about the election and the media coverage has already started to appear, including references to potential candidates.

Let's work to get through this with the minimum possible tribalism, without ripping the union in half, and with a real debate about the direction of the union - the issues that actually matter to our members.

One small silver lining (I'm getting really desperate here) for members in my own EEE&IT sector is that this gives us an extra 6 months to sort out the contentious issue of who ends up in the new "IT and Communications" sector.


Ian said...

Gill George has posted a report on the meeting on her blog.

ian said...

I have been sent this report from a GEC delegate.Ian

Yesterdays' special Executive agreed overwhelmingly (68 to 3) to set back the formal date for integration of the 2 sections 6 months from 1st November, and allow Derek Simpson to stand again for election to remain in post as Joint General Secretary till his 66th birthday in December 2010. From the T&G Section's point of view this proposal (which came from the T&G) is designed to settle Derek down and stop his posturing about forcing a very divisive election for a single GS for UNITE, and meanwhile in our view obstructing any meaningful progress on integration of membership data and finance etc. Setting the date back from 1st November does not in any way delay integration. In fact we will now be much more pro-active in presenting specific proposals to the Exec starting with November's exec. The fact is integration has not taken place anyway on some of the most important issues of all and will not be by 1st November. However it must also be said that whilst we of course seek amicable agreement with AMICUS to push the integration through speedily from now on, our recent experience of Derek and his team is that we have to be prepared for total obstruction. Whilst we are prepared to use our majority on the Executive more aggressively we have to confront the unpalatable truth that the AMICUS leadership may be so obstructionist that the merger cannot work on the terms we all agreed. If that is so (and we hope it will not be) then we must have the freedom to demerge, and we cannot do that at all if both sections disappear for ever on 1st November. Hence the need to delay the date for integration under Rule. The delay is for only 6 months. Regarding Derek's election, he is simply restanding for his existing position. The legal advice is unanimous that Jerry Hick's complaint to the Certification Officer will be upheld. Derek will have to stand for election again if his to stay on beyond the age of 65. So we are letting him do it. The timetable for Joint General Secretaries therefore remain in place as agreed by the membership i.e. AMICUS JGS steps down in December 2010 and a newly elected GS Designate takes office alongside Tony Woodley for one year until December 2011 when new GS takes over. Under this arrangement Derek will not "resign" so Tony is not forced to stand down a year from now. Interesting news straight after the Executive finished yesterday. Laurence Fairclough UNITE Regional Secretary has announced he is standing against Derek Simpson. Nominations open shortly and the ballot takes place early next year.