All of the motions agreed at 2019s Annual General Meeting
Motion 1 Climate change school strikes
- Lambeth UNISON applauds the brave actions of students organising school walkouts to demand that the government takes meaningful action on climate change.
- We are facing a global emergency, climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to our planet. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the Earth’s atmosphere is already over 1°C warmer than preindustrial levels. If drastic change is not made it is extremely likely we will face rising sea levels, heat waves that will occur more often and last longer and extreme weather events that will become more intense and frequent. The effects of climate change are unevenly distributed, causing the most damage to the most vulnerable groups the world over.
- As trade unionists we believe that the action taken by students in walking out of their classrooms to highlight the risks that we all face is justified.
- Lambeth UNISON commits itself to supporting action that fights climate change and we will work to prevent those that take part in peaceful protest from facing repercussions from their educational institutions.
Motion 2 Direct Labour Organisation
- The Lambeth UNISON AGM notes that action should be taken by Branch Officers to fight for a Direct Labour Organisation. The AGM notes that success has been achieved in bringing back the parks and gardens department, but maintenance or repairs, general highways works, security and rubbish collection need to be brought back in house. There may be even more work that is outsourced to bring back in house.
- The effect on the community would be vast if successful, new apprenticeships, colleges to expand for trades, and various other professional qualifications. Direct line for tenants and leaseholder, cutting out the middle person (contractor) to those responsible for the work, rather than chasing contractors.
- Privatisation costs more
- Privatisation damages services
- Privatisation drives down terms and conditions
- Public services should be run for people, not for profit
- The AGM instructs its officers to do the following;
- We instruct our officers to fight for a newly formed DLO
- They organise a campaign throughout the community to ask for a DLO.
- Put together a leaflet informing Councillors, tenants and leaseholders the advantages of a DLO.
- Put the argument for a DLO to UNISON conference
- Raise the issue with Lambeth Trades Council
Motion 3 Fighting the Far Right
- This UNISON AGM (2019) welcomes the decision of the 2018 TUC Congress to launch a “Jobs, Homes not Racism campaign to unite the wider trade union movement and to campaign effectively against the far right.”
- On 14 July 2018 following a counter-demonstration against the ‘Democratic’ Football Lads Alliance, RMT members including Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley were violently attacked, and racist thugs also held up a bus to intimidate a Muslim woman bus driver.
- The 9 June ‘Free Tommy’ DFLA demonstration in London involved an estimated 15,000 people. The DFLA demo on 14 July which included calls to welcome Trump was much smaller, dwarfed by the demonstrations against Trump the previous day.
- Nonetheless, many people will be alarmed at the size of the DFLA demos and could be put off participating in small counter protests that rely on the police for their defence.
- While up to 15,000 marched to ‘Free Tommy’ on 9 June, in March 2011 three quarters of a million marched under the banner of the TUC when people believed the trade unions were going to fight austerity. When Jeremy Corbyn put forward an anti-austerity manifesto in the 2017 general election a million previously-UKIP voters switched to vote Labour.
- If the far-right attempt to invade a local community it is essential that we fight for a massive mobilisation of the community to defend itself. The trade unions can be crucial in this. With an energetically-built campaign in the workplaces we can mobilise members.
- We welcome the call from RMT activists for a trade union stewarding group. A list of hundreds of volunteers from each union could be drawn up, from which stewards and a chief steward with experience can be drawn on each occasion.
- Crucially, trade union action can hold out hope and an alternative to those small numbers of people who may be attracted to far-right ideas. While some of the people that give their support to organisations like the DFLA subscribe to the racist rhetoric expounded by their leaders, the people demonstrating are not all ‘fascists’. A lot of them are angry working class people, deeply alienated by austerity and by decades of capitalist neo-liberal policies. They have been betrayed by all the establishment politicians, in particular abandoned by the betrayals of Blairite New Labour that has pursued pro-capitalist policies of cuts, privatisation and austerity-lite in councils and in government.
- If the trade unions mobilise with energy and with clear demands to fight for jobs and homes and to kick out the Tories, we’d have hundreds of thousands on the streets and could cut across the appeal of far-right leaders.
This UNISON AGM therefore:
- Calls on the TUC and our own trade union leaders to urgently act on the decision of the 2018 Congress to “launch a Jobs, Homes, Not Racism campaign to unite the wider trade union movement and to campaign effectively against the far right.”
- In the meantime we also resolve that our branch/region will act.
This should include:
- Opening up a debate about the slogans and tactics necessary to defeat the far-right, putting the resources, authority and power of the organised working class at the centre of a mass anti-racist, anti-austerity movement.
- Responding positively to the call for a trade union stewards group, providing volunteers and organisation
- Workers taking all legal steps (up to and including strike action) to disrupt all attempts to organise for the purposes of extending the rhetoric of the DFLA or any similar organisation.
- The trade unions should name the day for a national demonstration.
- Support the UN Anti-Racism Day demonstration on 16th March by sending the banner and mobilising as many members as possible to attend
Motion 4 Attendance at UNISON Conferences
- This AGM recognises that it is important that our members are represented at UNISON Conferences, including National Delegate Conference, Local Government Conference and Self-Organised Group Conferences. Delegations attending Conferences are collective representatives of the branch. We agree that we shall elect delegates taking into account the number of delegates to which we are entitled, and the cost.
- Delegates shall be entitled to accommodation paid for by the branch and to travel and subsistence expenses at a rate equivalent to or less than any appropriate national rate.
- The costs for delegates to conferences are paid from the membership payments of Lambeth UNISON members. This AGM recognises that membership payments come from the hard earned wages of our members, many of whom struggle to pay these each month.
- Lambeth UNISON is committed to managing our finances carefully.
To demonstrate our accountability to the Branch membership this AGM resolves that our Branch will:
- Only pay or reimburse accommodation costs and subsistence at rates which are in accordance with the appropriate national UNISON rates
- Only pay or reimburse travel expenses in accordance with national policy, which require the use of taxis only where public transport is either not available or is not suitable (e.g where a disabled member is unable to use public transport)
- Publish at every AGM a list of the expenses paid for each conference
- Delegates will be expected to have regard to the agreed costs. Any expenses incurred over and above the agreed costs will not be paid by the branch but will be the responsibility of that delegate. In exceptional circumstances, and only with prior agreement of the Branch Committee, further costs will be considered on a case by case basis subject to guidance by the national Union.
Responsibilities & conduct of delegates at Conferences
- The Branch Committee shall meet following the publication of the final agenda for Local Government Conference and National Delegate Conference in order to agree mandates for the delegations to those Conferences. The Branch Committee will agree, in respect of each delegation, the identity of a delegation leader (who will normally be the most senior Branch Officer on the delegation).
- The delegation leader shall be responsible for convening a pre-meeting of the delegation before Conference and for co-ordinating reporting back after Conference. Where the delegation has to make a decision in respect of which there is not already a mandate (for example an Emergency Motion or where the delegation has been mandated to “listen and decide”) the delegation should meet and agree a policy, reflecting the policy of the branch (and not the views of the individual members of the delegation). The delegation should explain their decision in their report back to the Branch Committee. Delegates will be expected to attend Conference when in session and report back to the branch.
- Self-organised groups shall be responsible for the conduct of delegations to self-organised group Conferences and attendance shall be as agreed between the self-organised group and the Branch Committee.
- Any delegate or visitor attending on behalf of the branch who has a problem at a Conference, or is dissatisfied at or before Conference about any matter in connection with their attendance on behalf of the branch shall be expected to raise this in the first instance with the delegation leader.
- If the matter cannot be resolved between the delegate/visitor and the delegation leader it may be referred to the Branch Chair to adjudicate on behalf of the branch. Branch members are not expected to raise matters outside the branch without permitting the branch a reasonable opportunity to resolve matters.Visitors to conferences
- Any member may choose to attend a UNISON Conference as a visitor on their own account as permitted by UNISON nationally. Members who attend on their own account shall not be entitled to any payment from the branch, whether for accommodation, travel or subsistence. They shall not be under any obligation to report back.
- We agree that the Branch Committee may agree to send one or more visitors to attend Conference as observers on behalf of the branch. This will be decided by the Branch Committee sufficiently in advance of any particular Conference to enable members to be made aware of the opportunity to attend, to express an interest in attending and to be subject to democratic election by the Branch Committee. The Branch Committee will take into account the cost to the Branch of attendance of members as visitors to a Conference in deciding whether or not to send any visitors, and will take account of proportionality and fair representation when electing members to attend in this capacity.
- Members attending Conference as visitors on behalf of the branch by decision of the Branch Committee shall be entitled to be reimbursed their travel costs and to claim subsistence expenses at the same rate as delegates. The Branch Committee shall decide, in advance of each Conference, whether or not one or more visitors attending on behalf of the branch shall be entitled to have accommodation paid by the branch. Visitors attending as observers on behalf of the branch shall be expected to participate in reporting back from the Conference to the Branch Committee and shall be treated as members of the delegation to that Conference.
- The Branch Committee may take into account the proximity of a Conference to London and may decide, for example, that where Conference is within commuting distance (e.g. Brighton) the branch may prefer to send a number of visitors on different days (without providing accommodation) rather than sending one or two visitors to attend throughout Conference. In all cases this decision will be taken sufficiently in advance to enable democratic selection of visitors to attend on behalf of the branch.
- This AGM resolves that this motion shall be the Branch policy on attendance and cost of attendance at UNISON Conferences.
MOTION 5 free our unions – repeal the anti union laws
- Conference believes that repeal of the anti-trade union laws and their replacement with strong legal rights for workers and unions, including a strong right to strike, is a decisive question for our movement.
- These laws scupper or undermine more and more struggles; in high profile national cases – e.g. the PCS pay ballot – but also in numerous smaller disputes. They make the kind of workplace level organising and campaigning without which trade unionism will not revive difficult. As anti-union laws have become consolidated and new layers been added, the labour movement at various levels has become tightly hemmed in.
- Moreover, facing the challenges which could beset a radical Labour government with workers’ hands still tied behind our backs would be dangerous. Our ability to organise and take action will be decisive to the delivery of serious changes, and to going forward from there to transform society.
- We believe that without the ability to take industrial action freely, other reforms such as expanded collective bargaining may be difficult to achieve and in any case will not necessarily deliver the shift in power workers need.
- We therefore resolve that UNISON will campaign clearly, vocally and proactively for:
- Complete and speedy repeal of all anti-union laws.
- Strong legal rights for workers to join, recruit to and be represented by a union; strike/take industrial action by a process, at a time and for demands of their own choosing, including in solidarity with any other workers and for broader social and political goals; and picket freely.
- The right to reinstatement for workers found to have been sacked unfairly. A complete ban on dismissal for industrial action, however long it lasts. Full rights from day one of a job.
- Strong rights for unions to access workplaces, win recognition, and establish collective bargaining, including sector-wide bargaining.
- Unions’ right to decide their own policies and activities, determine their own structures and rules, and spend their funds as they choose, free from state and employer interference.