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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 July 2007

UNISON conference

Delegates challenge leadership

THE MOST important point about UNISON conference was that the mood of anger and dissatisfaction reflected in the recent elections for the national executive council (NEC) also surfaced at conference. In those elections several prominent right-wingers lost their seats.

A conference delegate

Those NEC elections weren't just a blip, they show the processes developing in the union. Delegates from areas which have never before voted with the left or had militant positions are becoming increasingly militant.

This reflects the dissatisfaction with the union leadership as a whole. They've seen disasters like single status and they've seen the schools remodelling agreement resulting in a demand to take school members out of local government collective bargaining and set them up on their own.

They've seen 'agenda for change' in the NHS not delivering the kind of pay that health workers need. They're beginning to question what kind of leadership we've got.

The national leadership are extremely worried about these developments. That's why they launched the witch hunt against the Socialist Party - for handing out a leaflet which complained about the manipulation of the agenda by the standing orders committee. [See last week's issue.]

On one day, conference rejected in its entirety a standing orders committee report for the day's business. The leadership had to significantly shift ground to capture the mood of conference, in particular debating cross-group and cross-union activity over pay, privatisation, cuts etc.

Some of the decisions taken on policy items were also important. For example against the advice of the NEC an amendment was carried which called for a national demonstration against public-sector privatisation.

The NEC have been setting their face against demonstrations for several years now. They have just, after 18 months' delay, agreed to call a demo in October against New Labour's attacks on the NHS. And they've now been committed by conference to call a further demo against privatisation and in defence of public services.

A resolution on a boycott of Israeli goods was debated. There was substantial support for a boycott, which Socialist Party members are opposed to in the blanket manner that it was proposed.

The support reflects the anger that delegates were feeling about the mistreatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state - the fact that they face daily humiliation, are subject to strip searches when they move about and the bombardment of Palestinian areas.

Throughout the week any criticism of the Labour link got cheers. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to debate that directly.

Conference debated the question of united action over pay and most delegates will have gone back to the branches feeling that the union has been pushed into a better stand.

Up to now united action has been just that, talk.

Now the leadership have been pushed towards action. They know they have to seriously get together the service groups and other public-sector unions to co-ordinate action on pay and in defence of the public sector.

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In The Socialist 5 July 2007:

Brown's government for the rich

Blair's toadying surpasses all clichés


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards' Network conference: Join the fightback against the bosses' offensive


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Campaign for a New Workers' Party: Giving workers a voice

Lively CNWP meeting in Cardiff

Sign up to the CNWP campaign


What we think

Unite against war, poverty and terrorism


Postal workers strike

Postal workers: we're striking to win

Postal workers' strike gets solid support across the country


Socialist Party news and analysis

Under several feet of flood water - after flood defence budget cut

"A new gilded age of inequality"

Stop subsidising private schools

Surplus cash yet cutbacks continue


International socialist news and analysis

Why the United Nations fails the test of internationalism

Iran: Riots over petrol rationing

Climate change: socialist international planning needed

George Bush - a get out of jail ticket

Pakistan: Union activist has suspension withdrawn following protests


Tales from the council chamber

Tales from the council chamber

'Living in a parallel universe'


Socialist Party workplace news

UNISON delegates challenge leadership

Victory over bullying management

RMT conference: Fighting a thousand cuts

Not so nice Mr Branson


Socialist Party events

Socialism 2007


Socialist Party review

Two plays reviewed by Mark Baker: 'Philistines' and 'The Last Confession'


 

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Related links:

Unison:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleHelp fund the fightback: sponsor my marathon

triangleCarmarthenshire union demands no-cuts budget

triangleFrimley NHS Trust: Strikers remain determined to defeat privatisation

Privatisation:

triangleSave the NHS: kick out the Tories

triangleBroadband: privatisation has failed to deliver, time for a socialist plan

triangleFrimley NHS Trust strikes: Health workers walkout against privatisation

Public-sector:

trianglePCS: the real issues at stake

NHS:

triangleEnd profiteering from health - nationalise big pharma

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