Friday 15 July 2016

Unite Policy Conference 2016 - Thursday's business

I've written a report for rs21 which covers the highlights of Thursday's business. It was a packed day, which included the momentous decision to back mandatory reselection for Labour MPs - something that would not have been supported a few weeks ago.

John McDonnell addressed conference, took questions and was enthusiastically received:

Below are the decisions I managed to note - I had to miss a few to take phone calls about my workplace.

Motion 83: Right to receive: Carried
Composite 20: Equalities Monitoring: Carried
Motion 82: Hidden disability and neurodiversity awareness: Carried
Motion 89: Equality Training: Carried
Motion 90 + Amendment: Assistance with Training and Support for new/existing Reps who have a Disability: Carried
Composite 33: Equipping Unite to Resist the Trade Union Act: Carried
Composite 34: Campaigning Against the Trade Union Act: Carried
Composite 35: E-balloting for Industrial Action and Executive Bodies: Carried
Composite 36: Redundancy Rights: Carried
Motion 170: Agency Workers Directive and 'Swedish Derogation': Carried

Conference watched a short film about blacklisting:

A fundraising appeal was circulated for a documentary about the blacklist.

Motion 171: Blacklisting and the next Labour Government: Carried
Motion 173 + Amendments: Casualisation of Employment: Carried
Motion 179: Zero Hours Contracts: [need to check]
Motion 180: Minimum Pay Rates for Working Anti-Social Hours: [need to check]
Motion 177: Corporate Governance: Remitted
Motion 178: Workers' representatives on company boards: Remitted
Composite 32: Regional Devolution: Carried
Motion 153: Regional Devolution: Carried
Motion 156: True Democracy for County Councils, City Councils and Borough Councils: Fell
Motion 159: Anti-fascism: Carried
[This motion committed Unite to ensure support is put in place to assist local groups to take direct action in opposing fascist demonstrations. The mover also referred to the need to support those jailed for anti-fascist activity]
Composite 41: Labour Party Leadership: Carried
Motion 161: Reselection of MPs: Carried
Motion 162: Constitutional Reform: Carried (Amendments were Withdrawn)
Motion 181: Defending Communities: Carried
Motion 182: The Need for a Commissioner for the Elderly in the UK: Carried
Motion 183: Cold Weather Deaths: Carried
Composite 37: Unite in Schools: Carried
Motion 187: HIV Support Services: Carried
Motion 188: Mobility Insurance: Carried
Motion 189: Statutory Youth Service: Carried
Emergency Motion 3: Don't cut our Rights - Save the Equality and Human Rights Commission: Carried
Composite 14: Public Transport as Part of Our Greener Cities Agenda: Carried
Composite 15: Balanced Energy Policy: Carried
Composite 16: Public ownership of utilities: Carried
Composite 17: Fracking: Carried
Composite 18: Action on Climate Change: Carried
Motion 190 + Amendment: Branch Secretaries Email Support: Carried
Composite 38: Towards a Sustainable Unite: Remitted
Motion 192: Outsourcing and Procurement: Carried
Motion 197: Executive Council Elections: Remitted
Motion 198: Reintroduction of Skilled Membership Card: Remitted
Motion 199: Disenfranchised Members: Carried
Motion 200: Route for Emergency Motions: Carried
Motion 147: Affiliate to National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN): Remitted
Emergency Motion 7: Solidarity with USW members at National Grid: Carried

During conference elections were held for the 5th policy conference Standing Orders Committee (SOC) and the following were elected:
  • EM: Steve Froggatt
  • I: Fraces Hourihane
  • LE: Marsha de Cordova
  • NEYH: Dave Allen
  • NW: Martin McMulkin
  • S: Linda Delgado
  • SE: Jan Bastable
  • SW: Agnes Hilditch
  • W: Julie Evans
  • WM: Barry Hartshorn
There were also elections for the Appeals Committee, with the following elected:
  • EM: Rob Siddons
  • I: Liam Gallagher 
  • LE: Jim Kelly, Susan Matthews
  • NEYH: Ian King, Angela Duncum
  • NW: Ian Bruce
  • S: Shirley Johnson
  • SE: Paul Millam
  • SW: And Worth
  • W: Phil Jones
  • WM: Dave Harrison

Thursday 14 July 2016

Unite Policy Conference 2016 - Wednesday's business

I've already posted videos of Jeremy Corbyn's speech and Sharon Graham's presentation on the Unite Industrial Strategy - Work, Voice, Pay.

The liveliest debate of the day was around the aftermath of the EU referendum and what UNITE's position on freedom of movement should be. Conference agreed the EC statement which didn't take a clear position on freedom of movement, but called for a debate across the union on it. As a result the emergency motions defending freedom of movement fell. The passing of Composite 19 partially remedies this, but still leaves our policy unclear.

I've shared the conference agenda (the original motions) and a booklet with many of the composites. Further information on conference business can be found at

Composite 31 (Motions 148 + Amendment, 150, 151, 184): Pensions and Retirement: Carried
Motion 128: Sports Direct: Carried


 Composite 28 (Motions 129, 146): Collective Bargaining and National Agreements: Carried
Motion 130: Campaigning Against the Mythology of Redundancy: Carried
Motion 131: Organising Agency Workers: Carried
Motion 132: Decent Work Campaign: Carried
Motion 135: Management Techniques & Employee Participation: Carried
Composite 29 (Motions 136, 137): Challenge of the Digital Economy: Carried
Motion 141: Income Tax: Carried
Motion 142: Income Tax: Carried
Motion 144: Outsourcing: Remitted
Motion 145 + Amendment: BBC: Carried
Executive Statement 3: European Union: Carried
Emergency Motion 2: No to racism, yes to human rights: Fell
Emergency Motion 4: Brexit and the rise of racism: Remitted
Emergency Motion 6: EU Referendum: Fell
Motion 71: Women at Work: Carried
Motion 73: Ensuring Equal Pay Implementation: Carried
Motion 72: Childcare and Work: Carried
Motion 74: Childcare - Impact on Women's Activism: Carried
Motion 75: Stand up to Racism Campaign: Carried
Composite 19 (Motions 76, 77, 78): Immigration Act 2016: Carried
Motions 79 + Amendment: LGBT Rights: Carried
Motion 80: LGBT Survivor Pensions Equality: Carried
Motion 81: Trans Rights: Carried

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Unite Policy Conference

Jeremy Corbyn's speech showed how much his own views align with Unite policies. He got particularly strong applause for his commitments to renationalise the railways and repeal the Trade Union Act. He also talked about the Workplace 2020 discussions about the future of work.

Those planning to stand against Corbyn for Labour leader should note - only a handful of delegates didn't stand and applaud him, and presumably some of those were people who had difficulty standing. This is markedly more enthusiastic than the response to any Labour leader I can remember.

Watch for yourself:

Work, Voice, Pay - Unite Industrial Strategy (with better video)

At the end of Unite Policy Conference today, Sharon Graham, who leads the Organising and Leverage Department, gave a presentation about a new database which all Unite officers and reps will be able to access online, giving details of agreements at tens of thousands of workplaces. It is accessible through the Work Voice Pay link on the front page of the Unite web site.

Watch Sharon's presentation:

Unite Policy Conference 2016 - Tuesday's business

The biggest debate of the day was around local government cuts. An Executive Statement strengthened Unite's policy, but didn't go as far as the motions which fell as a result of it passing.

Composite 1 (Motions 1 & 2): Campaigning Against Privatisation: Carried
Executive Statement 2: Austerity and Local Government Cuts: Carried
Composite 2 (Motions 3, 4, 5): Campaigning Against Local Government Cuts: Fell
Motion 6: Fighting Back Against Austerity: Fell
Composite 3 (Motions 7, 8 + Amendment, 9 + Amendment): Defending the NHS: Carried
Motion 138: Support the Junior Doctors Campaign Against a Pay Cut and Increased Working Hours: Carried
Composite 4 (Motions10 + Amendment, 11, 12, 13): Campaigning for Homes for All: Carried
Composite 5 (Motions 14 & 15): The Failure of Austerity: Carried
Motion 16: Defending our Libraries: Carried
Composite 24 (Motions 100, 102, 103, 104): Campaigning to Defeat TTIP, CETA and TiSA: Carried
Motion 105: Workers Uniting: Carried
Motion 106: BAEM Workers Internationally: Carried
Motion 107: Palestine: Carried
Motion 108: G4S/Palestine: Carried
Motion 109: Support for Syria: Carried
Motion 110: Anti-war in the Middle East: Carried
Motion 111: Solidarity with the Kurdish population and all progressive forces fighting repression in Turkey: Carried
Composite 25 (Motion 113 + As): Latin America: Carried
Motion 112: Columbia: Carried
Motion 114: Bullying, Harassment and Wellbeing at Work: Carried
Motion 115: Shift Working and its impact on our members: Carried
Composite 26 (Motions 117 & 112): Stress: Carried
Motion 118: Fibromyalgia Awareness in Unite and workplaces: Carried
Motion 120: Campaign and ban the use of Helium Balloons and Chinese Lanterns: Lost
Composite 13 (Motions 57 & 58): Ireland - economics and politics: Carried
Motion 121: Electronic Cigarettes: Remitted
Composite 27 (Motions 123 + As, 124, 125, 126): Mental Health: Carried
Motion 127: Food Standards / Hygiene Issues: Carried

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Unite Policy Conference 2016 - Monday's business

The main debate of the day was on Trident, where an Executive Council Statement was agreed. It contains stronger commitments to diversification than in the past, but means Unite won't be calling for MPs to vote against Trident until there is a government committed to diversification.

Motion 36: Economic Policy: Fell
Motion 37 + Amendment: The Financial Crisis: Carried
Composite 9 (Motions 38 + Amendment, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44): A Strategic Plan for Manufacturing: Carried [after EC assurance that this would not be interpreted as a return to "British Jobs 4 British Workers"]
Motion 47: Save Our Steel: Carried
Composite 10 (Motions 45, 46, 101): Save our Steel / China MES: Carried
Composite 11 (Motions 50 + Amendment, 133, 134): Ownership and Regulation of Public Transport: Carried
Motion 49: Ownership Control & Regulation of the Public Transport System: Carried
Motion 48: Investment in Transport Infrastructure: Carried
Motion 51: Supermarket Loss Leaders: Carried
Composite 12 (Motions 52, 53, 143): Living Wage and Basic Income: Carried
Motion 54: Basic Income: Carried
Motion 55: CPI (Consumer Price Index) v RPI (Retail Price Index): Carried
Executive Statement 1: Defence Diversification & Trident: Carried
As a result, all the remaining motions on the subject fell:
Composite 6 (Motions 19, 20 + Amendment, 23, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34)
Composite 7 (Motions 21, 22, 24, 35)
Motion 17
Motion 29
Motion 31
Motion 33
Motion 18 Withdrawn
Motion 25 Withdrawn
Motion 26 Withdrawn

Sunday 3 July 2016

Defending Corbyn and Freedom of Movement

Unite's National Industrial Sector Committee (NISC) for my sector (GPM&IT) met this week and agreed to submit the following as emergency motions to the Unite Policy Conference this month.

It is likely that the "leadership" will try to avoid either being passed by putting forward fudgy "Executive Statements". If an Executive Statement is passed, all motions on the same subject fall. Given how long it took to get our union behind Corbyn in the first place, and our General Secretary's recent unhelpful comments about free movement of labour, conference fudge is the last thing we need.

1) Defend Jeremy Corbyn

This conference recognises that the outcome of the UK’s referendum on EU membership has significant economic and political implications at UK, EU and global levels. Now that the decision to leave the EU has been taken, the labour movement urgently needs a positive programme for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland post-EU. This must be based on a break from the neoliberal free-market agendas of both the UK government and the EU, along with a strong platform of workers’ rights, civil rights and equality.

This conference believes that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is much better placed to provide a positive way forward than the failed New Labour alternatives.

This conference deplores the actions of many Labour MPs in undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and pledges UNITE’s support in the leadership election.

2) No to racism, yes to human rights

This conference is appalled at the racism, xenophobia and hostility to migrants evident from some campaigners on both sides during the EU referendum, and by the increase in racist abuse, harassment and attacks following the result. We note the increased insecurity facing non-UK citizens, including many UNITE members.

This conference believes that scapegoating migrants for austerity, poor housing, jobs and services undermines all our ability to tackle the real causes.

This conference believes that calls for restrictions on freedom of movement for people, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, conceded ground to the racist myth that migration, rather than the actions of government and employers, are the causes of the problems that face us. Such calls encourage blaming of migrant workers in the UK and undermine the solidarity we need to tackle our problems.

This conference resolves to:
1. Redouble our opposition to racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia and our solidarity with migrants
2. Oppose calls to restrict free movement of people or the right to work and to defend employment rights and anti-discrimination legislation
3. Campaign to highlight the real causes of poor housing, jobs and services and the part played by migrants and BAEM people in fighting against them