Motions agreed at the Lambeth UNISON conference in January 2018
Proposed rule changes for National Delegate Conference
Finally Freeing our unions
Stand up to Racism Trade Union Conference
Support the Picturehouse Strikes!
Working for trans women’s equality in the union and labour movement
Motion One – A proposed amendment to rule for National Delegate Conference
After ‘send two representatives’ delete ‘of’ and substitute ‘elected by and from among’
Motion Two – Finally freeing our trade unions
This Meeting Notes:
- That the September 2017 Labour Party conference passed policy on repealing the anti-trade union laws and introducing strong legal rights to organise, collectively bargain and strike – but this policy has so far not been widely reported or noticed. There is a danger that, under pressure from employers, the Tories, the right-wing press and more conservative elements in Labour, it will be not carried out.
This Meeting Believes
1. That this is a crucial issue for the whole labour movement. With the possibility of a Corbyn government soon, we need to build the strongest possible support to ensure these demands are implemented.
This Meeting Resolves
1. To ask our branch committee to circulate the following statement (giving them permission to make minor amendments as necessary), asking other union branches, regions, national unions, etc, to add their endorsement; and create a section on our website to be regularly updated with organisations that have signed.
2. To send the statement to all members with a note explaining its importance.
We need the right to organise and strike – free our unions
We are campaigning to abolish the anti-trade union laws which hamstring workers organising and taking industrial action, and replace them with strong legal rights.
We applaud the unanimous decision by the 2017 Labour Party conference to call for repeal of not just the 2016 Trade Union Act but also the “anti-union laws introduced in the 1980s and 90s” by the Thatcher and Major Tory governments and kept in place after 1997; and for a “strong legal charter of workers’ rights”. “For unions to be effective workers need an effective right to strike”. This builds on the 2015 conference decision, also unanimous, that the next Labour government should “legislate for strong rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action”.
We will campaign to ensure:
- Complete repeal of all the anti-union laws introduced after 1979.
• Strong legal rights for workers to join, belong to and recruit others to a union; strike by a process, at a time and for demands of their own choosing, including in solidarity with other workers and for broader social and political goals; and picket freely.
• Strong legal rights for unions to access workplaces, win recognition and engage in collective bargaining, including sector-wide bargaining.
• The right of unions to determine their own structures, rules and processes, decide their own policies and activities, and spend their funds as they choose, free from state and employer interference, in line with ILO Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Motion Three – Stand up to Racism Trade Union Conference
This branch notes:
- The growth in the racist, and sometimes fascist, right from Trump’s election in the US to the electoral successes for the Front National in France, the AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the Freedom Party in Austria.
- That thousands of refugees still face death fleeing war and poverty, while the Tories continue to scapegoat refugees and migrants. They are blamed for overstretched public services instead of the real culprit – austerity.
- That we need to build a mass antiracist movement to stop the growth of the right.
- That Trade Unions need to support those stuck in desperate need across the channel in Calais and Dunkirk and reassert our demand to open the borders.
- That the Stand Up To Racism national demonstrations in London and across Europe on Saturday 17 March 2018 (UN Anti-Racism Day), can play an important part in strengthening our movement.
- To publicise and support the collection of goods and money and send a donation of £50 to Care4Calais
- To support the Stand Up To racism trade union conference on Saturday 10 February. To pay for a delegation of 4 members and to send the branch banner.
- To support the Stand Up To Racism protests in London on Saturday 17 March, to send our banner and delegation.
Motion Four – Support the Picturehouse Strikes!
Picturehouse workers are going to take sustained strike action over the next few months, after Cineworld, who own Picturehouse, threatened to lock workers out for two weeks without pay. This is part of the workers campaign for the Living Wage, and also to get four colleagues re-instated who were sacked by Picturehouse for campaigning for the Living Wage. All four were trade union reps. Cineworld, who owns Picturehouse, made over £90 million profit last year, pays their Chief Executive £2.5 million a year and their directors over £1 million a year. Yet they continue to pay their workers poverty wages, and employ them on bad terms and conditions. Previously Cineworld has written to all the workers to say they would sack any workers taking strike action, which the workers have ignored.
Lambeth UNISON has been a key organisation in supporting the Community Pickets outside the Ritzy cinema over the past nine months. This motion asks the AGM to support the workers in their upcoming strikes and the strike fund that needed to raise at least £20,000 so workers on poverty wages can continue their strike.
The AGM resolves to:
- Contribute £750 to the strike fund.
- Continue Lambeth UNISON’s support of the Community Pickets.
- Support demonstrations and pickets by the Picturehouse workers during the upcoming strikes.
- Support direct action taken by the community campaign to assist the striking workers.
Motion Five – Working for trans women’s equality in the union and labour movement
This women’s conference is concerned about a crowd funding campaign, launched on 12 January 2018, to take legal action against the Labour Party for its longstanding policy that trans women are eligible for all women shortlists. The crowd funding page says ‘We believe that the election of self-identifying transwomen as women’s officers and their inclusion on all-women shortlists is reducing and undermining female representation in the Labour party.’
This is an alarming development in the sustained attack on the trans community since the Westminster government was prompted by Jeremy Corbyn to uphold its manifesto commitment to review the Gender Recognition Act 2004, partly shamed into action by their deal with the DUP. The campaign is aimed almost exclusively at trans women, with trans men rendered virtually invisible.
Conference notes that although transphobic articles and posts in the right wing press and on social media have been abhorrent and misleading, this has not been of great surprise. However, what has come as a surprise is that some in the union and labour movement are campaigning to deny trans women’s gender identity. In the name of feminism, they declare that trans women are not women and seek to ban them from women’s spaces. The campaign to ban trans women from Labour’s all women shortlists has gained support and funds in a matter of days. However, it has also been condemned by many union and Labour women. In a statement issued on 14 January, LGBT Labour said ‘A baseline for transgender inclusion is that trans people are accepted within their gender. Denying this to transgender women within the Labour Party would be a massive step backwards on our record as the party that has done the most to deliver a fairer and more equal society for all in the UK’.
As a women’s union, this conference believes UNISON has a key role to play in the union and labour movement of affirming that women’s equality and trans equality go hand in hand. Neither threatens or undermines the other. Conference welcomes the fact that UNISON has always accepted the right of people to affirm their own gender identity and is campaigning for a self-declaration process for legal gender recognition, in line with international human rights best practice. Conference also welcomes new UNISON briefings on trans equality reforms, including a model motion for branches and guidance on how to be a good trans ally.
Conference therefore calls on the national women’s committee to:
- Publicise UNISON’s long-held policy that trans women are women and that there is no conflict between women’s rights and trans rights;
- circulate the model motion on trans equality reforms and guide to being a good trans ally to regional and branch women’s groups, encouraging branches to adopt the motion;
- work with the national LGBT committee in continuing to raise these issues via Labour Link.