Tuesday 7 July 2015

Unite Rules Conference - day one

Most of the contentious business was crammed into day one.

It started lively, with conference decisively supporting my move to reject the Executive Council's undemocratic Standing Orders. Despite knowing in advance that the challenge was coming the leadership had no "plan B" prepared in case they lost the vote. Chaos and confusion reigned and eventually conference was adjourned until Len McCluskey came back with acceptable Standing Orders.  This was important not just for this year, but because they will be the starting point for future conferences.

Much of the debate on rule change motions submitted by branches and committees was overshadowed by Executive Statements which conference would have to reject in order to vote on many of the other motions.

There were debates on how some/all officers and senior staff should be elected or appointed. Conference rejected all the proposals, backing the EC's stance that it should continue making all officer appointments, that the General Secretary should be able to move them around rather than being linked to particular constituencies, and the General Secretary should appoint staff.

I'm a supporter of electing officers and making them accountable to particular lay committees. I thought there were two interesting points from the debate. Firstly, a view that frequent contested elections is a distraction and a cause of division and weakness, rather than an opportunity to engage and politically engage members. Secondly, a desire for centralisation of power within the union to allow it to operate coherently despite the centrifugal forces operating in a general union with sectors with different needs and priorities.

The other big debate was on the Labour Party. Conference decisively supported the EC statement which largely defended the status quo.  The debate was hugely influenced by Jeremy Corbyn's candidacy and the EC's decision to back him. Some who had felt the general election marked the end of the road for Labour argued this gave Labour another "last chance". To win the EC position, Len had to stress his commitment to recall Rules Conference if the situation with Labour changed, which I argued it will.

Rule amendments made by the EC since last Rules Conference were ratified
1/1 carried
3/2 carried
14/2 carried
30/1 carried
EC Statement 1 carried
7/6 fell
12/8 fell
14/7 fell
15/4 fell
15/5 fell
16/3 fell
14/15 withdrawn
14/16 lost
18/1 carried
18/2 fell
18/3 lost
18/4 carried
18/5 carried
EC statement 2 carried
2/2 fell
2/3 fell
2/4 fell
22/2 fell
22/3 fell
22/4 fell
22/5 fell
22/6 fell
22/7 fell
22/8 fell
22/9 fell not moved
22/11 fell not moved
SOC elected for Rules Conference 2019:
EM: Raffiq Moosa
Ireland: Frances Hourihane
LE: Bruce Swann
NEYH: Dave Allen
NW: Ian Bruce
Scotland: Shirley Johnston
SE: Stewart Dack
SW: Lynsey Wall
Wales: Julie Evans
WM: Barry Hartshorn

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