Policies agreed at Lambeth UNISON AGM 2023

Motion on fighting the anti union laws

  1. The Conservative government is waging a war on working people. They want to make it almost impossible to take industrial action in the UK, imposing ballot thresholds and restrictions on action that would effectively end the right to strike.
  2. The ultimate power that we have as workers is to withdraw our labour. Denying us the right to strike is a flagrant attack on trade unionism and will create a society in which working people are blocked from taking any meaningful action to improve wages or terms and conditions.
  3. The Conservative government wants to build on the anti union laws already in place since 1980. We cannot strike for non-workplace related reasons, we cannot carry out solidarity action with other workers, we are forced to have postal ballots for strike action and agency workers can be specifically brought in to break strikes. The thresholds for calling legal action are now very high, making it hard to organise action in large bargaining units like Local Government.
  4. There is a fight back. Free Our Unions was initiated Lambeth Unison in 2017. It is now backed by dozens of unions branches, committees, and local Labour Parties. Four national trade unions – IWGB, FBU, RMT, and PCS – have supported the campaign via their Annual General Meetings and/or National Executive Committees. It was initially established to promote and amplify policies passed at Labour Party conferences calling for the abolition of all anti-union laws, not only the most recent, and to demand Labour fight for this policy in opposition and commit to enacting it in government.
  5. There is also the Campaign to Defend Trade Union Freedoms.
  6. This AGM reconfirms our affiliation to Free Our Unions and agrees to a £250 donation.
  7. Lambeth UNISON will work with others across our movement to help convene a conference in 2023 about fighting the anti-union laws.

Motion – Kill the Anti-Strike Bill

This branch notes

1. The Tories have proposed a new anti-strike bill in an attempt to silence and cow the unions.

2. That this Bill will

(a) require some unions with a legal mandate to strike to instruct some of their members to break their own strike in order to provide a ‘minimum service level’, which could even be at a higher level than is normally provided due to staff shortages.

(b) will apply initially to transport, health, education and emergency services, but could be extended to other public services.

(c) If the unions do not agree a minimum service level the Minister will intervene and set one.

(d) The employer will name individual workers who will have to break their own strike; if they refuse, they could be sacked with no recourse to appeal (e.g. unfair dismissal).

(e) Under such circumstances the union could also be sued by the employer or a member of the public for ‘loss of earnings’, the highest fine being £1 million.

3. The provisions of the Bill, let alone any amendments it attracts will take away workers’ right to strike, a fundamental right according to the UN and the ILO.

4. The TUC has called a political day of action to oppose the Bill on 1 February and some unions have also co-ordinated their economic strikes on the same day. All unions and union branches are invited to join in the protest.

This branch resolves

4. To write to the CEO and Leader of the Council to demand that they oppose the Bill.

5. To contact all members, with workplace or directorate meetings where possible, leaflets and posters, exposing the Bill and promoting the action against it.

6. To call on members to come to a lunchtime demonstration on 1 February and encourage them not to return to work in protest at the Tory attack on workers’ democratic rights.

Moved by J Drinkall

Seconded by A Tullis

Motion on the four day week

  1. This branch notes the successful trial of the four day week that reported in February 2023.
  2. The four day week is becoming more and more popular in different workplaces as efficiencies over work processes and computerisation should lead to a reduction in workload, not increases.
  3. The benefits of a four day working week, where there is a reduction in hours with no loss of pay are clear
    1. Less stress at work
    1. Less sick days
    1. Better work/life balance
    1. Helps create more employment opportunities
  • This branch also notes that the Chief Executive rejected our proposal for a four day week trial at Lambeth Council saying that ‘now wasn’t the time’
  • This branch resolves to launch a public campaign for a 4 day week at Lambeth Council, with regular stalls to promote the idea and talks for staff to educate themselves on how it might work.
  • Let’s make Lambeth a 4 day week Council by 2025!

Motion on Affiliation to Campaign Against Climate Change

This branch/trades council notes that as global temperatures rise, impacts on humans and ecosystems are multiplying, including extreme weather events such as heatwaves, drought and flooding. These have the greatest impact on those who have done least to cause the problem.

It notes the inspiring mobilisations of civil society and trade unions around COP26 in November 2021 but that despite this the outcome failed us all.

It also notes that since COP26, the government has failed to take the urgent action needed to address the climate crisis: encouraging fossil fuel expansion and neglecting basic measures to cut energy demand, such as insulating homes. Continuing the UK’s dependence on fossil gas contributes to unprecedented levels of fuel poverty.

It believes a comprehensive programme of climate jobs is needed, as proposed in “Climate Jobs: Building a Workforce for the Climate Emergency”, to cut emissions and create the infrastructure needed for a sustainable future, including warm homes, integrated public transport and decarbonising industry.

It further believes that trade unions have a vital role to play in bringing about urgent climate action and a worker-led just transition rooted in workers’ rights and social justice.

The branch/region/ trades council therefore resolves:

1. To affiliate to the Campaign against Climate Change.

2. To make a bulk order for copies of the Climate Jobs: Building a Workforce for the Climate Emergency” report for sale to members. [Copies can be ordered here].

3. To notify the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group of our decision by emailing climatetradeunion@gmail.com

[Affiliation fees: branches and trades councils £25, regions and County Associations £50, national unions from £150, depending on size]

Motion on Reparations

Lambeth UNISON Branch notes

After centuries of silence and denial the realities of slavery and its legacy are entering public discussion. Black Lives Matter has directed attention to the histories and impacts of chattel slavery, especially the capture and exploitation of Africans and people of African descent, notably from the transatlantic slave trade.

The government of Barbados was perfectly correct to summon Tory MP Richard Drax to a meeting on the Caribbean Island, whereby a process to return his private ownership of a sugar plantation back to the people of that country can begin. Richard Drax is one of the wealthiest politicians in the Commons.

The Barbados government is discussing plans to secure reparations from South Dorset MP Richard Drax for his family’s role in pioneering and maintaining slavery in the Caribbean.

Barbados, which became a republic last year, is considering direct measures to secure reparations justice. Richard Drax still owns Drax Hall Estate – a sugar plantation established by his family almost 400 years ago. The Drax’s have accumulated vast wealth from their slavery plantations: today Richard Drax is the largest private landowner in Dorset and has properties across the UK. His personal wealth is estimated at £150 million.

Barbados’ National Task Force on Reparations has advised the country’s Cabinet to take legal action against Drax if the Dorset MP is unwilling to agree compensation. The Task Force is also recommending that 621-acre Drax Hall Estate should be used for housing for the local community and that Drax Hall Great House should become a museum of slavery. The Task Force says it expects Drax to fulfil his “moral duty”.

Stand Up To Racism has actively supported campaigners in Barbados and now joins the call for Drax to address the legacies of slavery (See ‘Time’s Up, Mr Drax’: https://tinyurl.com/5d2n7x4u)

See the recent Observer article by Paul Lashmar and Jonathan Smith: https://tinyurl.com/56tbmcf6

The campaign in Dorset led by local trade unions, activists in Barbados and supported by the TUC to relieve Richard Drax of his Barbados estate should be the start of a wider call for reparations, including financial institutions, the Church of England, universities and wealthy philanthropic individuals and institutions.

Our branch resolves:

1. To follow the initiative taken by Hammersmith & Fulham Unison last year (2021) and invite appropriate speakers and activists on reparations at Lambeth’s Black Workers Group and Branch meetings.

2. Invite Sir Hilary Beckles (historian and Vice Chancellor of university of West Indies) (via zoom or in person), Asher Craig (Deputy Mayor of Bristol), Rosemarie Mallet, (Archdeacon of Croydon), Weyman Bennett (co-Convenor, Stand Up to Racism) and Phil Martfleet to address a reparations conference to be held in South London in 2023 and advertise the conference.

3. This branch resolves to be part of the Reparations conference. Send attendees and circulate information to members. A proposed Reparations conference is currently being discussed by activists in Lewisham, Croydon and Lambeth.

Proposed: Jocelyn Cruywagen

Seconder: Tim O’Dell