Two of our activists attended National Delegates Conference in June. Here is some feedback from their experience at Delegates Conference
UNISON National Delegates Conference, Brighton 2016
Well what can we say about conference this year, it all began with Jamie and Diane (who had never flown before - well done!) attending a Scottish Delegates meeting on the Monday night. The main reason for this meeting was to support motion 121: “Gateway to the future: stable and sustainable Branch resources “Financial Stability, Economy of Scale and immediate help for Branches that need It”
Tuesday morning started with its normal slow pace with Annual reports and financial statements for the year (a copy of which is in the UNISON office) being spoken about.
The Chair paid tribute to Joe Cox and the conference paid their respects with a 2-minute silence. We were asked to donate to Joe Cox’s favourite charities White Helmets, The Royal Voluntary Service and Hope Not Hate. There was also a tribute book for all members to sign to be forwarded to her family.
I feel that I need to mention the heartfelt speech from a young mother who works at a kitchen assistant for her local school. This was emotionally moving and left the whole conference in tears. Her pleas were heard on the living wage, and on having to wait for supermarket food to be reduced before she could afford to feed her kids. She was given a standing ovation with not a dry eye in the conference.
It picked up pace after lunch with several motions being debated. (See conference info at the UNISON office)
Wednesday morning started with a very good heartfelt speech by Jeremy Corbyn, he spoke about the Government attacks on the “Trade Union Bill” (little did he know about Thursdays vote?)
Then we moved onto one of the biggest and best debates of the week Motion 121; 123; 124 “Financial Stability, economy of scale and immediate help for branches that need it”.
As a result of the debate there was a recount of votes resulting in a card vote. For those of you that do not understand this it is quite simple; each delegate has a vote card that he or she raises to support or oppose a motion-rule change, if the chair cannot decide that a majority has won then he or she calls for a card vote, each branch carries an amount of votes depending on the members of their branch, Grampian health branch has around 2700 members so that is 2700 votes, these votes are then placed in a ballot box and counted according to which way your branch delegates voted.
As a result of the card vote the motion was passed, much to some peoples’ disagreement.
Wednesday afternoon was all about our “Young members” and the awards ceremony with the Scottish young members getting a good award based on “gonnie no dee that” and I am sure Matt (Branch Young Members Officer) will fill you in on this project.
Conference then continued in normal fashion.
Thursday Morning began with a speech from Rosa Pavanelli General Secretary, Public Services International then moved onto debates.
Jamie had planned on speaking, yes that’s right speaking in front of around 1000 people on a debate about Motion 48; “Women, the refugee crisis and trafficking” but unfortunately he did not get the chance as a point of order was called with two speakers left, one of them being him. He was gutted but plans to speak at the next conference given the chance.
Thursday afternoon continued with debates and motions.
Friday morning, well what can we say, the morning after the “Remaining in Europe or not campaign” began with some very shocked faces to say the least, it is fair to say everyone was in a state of shock and after a debate about “strengthening our union and developing stewards” lunch was called.
Friday afternoon started with a few empty seats and the number of delegates and visitors continued to decline, due to the amount of empty seats the conference was not quorate so all motions where passed to the NEC.
There was a presentation to the outgoing President Wendy Nicholls thanking her for her good work over the past year. Conference was then closed.
Jamie and Diane said it was a great pleasure to represent Grampian Health Branch and its members, and hope that they can do the same again next year!