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Minutes of the Lambeth UNISON Annual General Meeting 2016
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) was organised on a rolling basis in three sessions. These took place on 13 January at 3.30pm at the Clapham site of Lambeth College, on 19 January at 4pm at International House and on 20 January at 12.30pm at the Karibu Centre. A quorum of members were present across the three meetings and arrangements were made to ensure that members who attended more than one session of the meeting could vote on only one occasion.
The business transacted was as follows;
- Introductions and apologies for absence.
Apologies had been received from Gurmeet Khurana.
- The Chair then proposed that, at the conclusion of the business of the rolling AGM the meeting will stand adjourned to be reconvened before the end of March in order to consider the 2015 accounts, the 2016 budget and the nomination of shop stewards, and this was agreed without opposition;
- The Chair then proposed that the meeting agreed to reduce the quorum for branch meetings from 100 to 50 and this was agreed with one vote against;
- The minutes of the 2015 Annual General Meeting were agreed. There were no matters arising;
- The Annual Report was presented to each session of the meeting and members had the opportunity to ask questions;
- Hustings took place for the election of Safety Officer. The Chair drew the attention of the meeting to the election statements from candidates to attend National Delegate Conference and Local Government Conference;
- The meeting then moved on to debate motions which had been submitted for consideration and agreed as follows;
Motion One – Local Council Cuts
This branch notes
- a) That the Autumn Statement/Four-yearly Comprehensive Spending Review announced more austerity: £20 billion cuts, plus another £22 billion cuts in the near-bankrupt NHS; we are only halfway through the Tories’ austerity.
- b) That the Ministry of Defence budget, however, will rise from £34 billion to £40 billion as there is always money for war
- c) that the central government expenditure on local councils will be slashed by 56%; while this could be offset by changes to revenue, poorer boroughs, like Lambeth, would stand to gain less by bumping up rates, which in any case would hit those in most need the hardest
- d) That Jeremy Corbyn won election as Labour Party leader with a 59.5% majority on an anti-austerity ticket, with Unison’s backing, opening up the possibility of a labour movement wide resistance to cuts.
This branch believes
- a) That austerity is designed to redistribute wealth from the working class to the wealthiest in society
- b) That Lambeth Labour Party can and should resist the cuts by passing a budget based on people’s needs and calling on other Labour-run councils and the working people of Lambeth to rally behind them with demos, direct action and strikes
This branch resolves
- a) To support Momentum, the movement set up to see Jeremy Corbyn’s policies carried through into action, by sending delegates to its meetings, supporting its actions, donating money to its projects as appropriate
- b) To call on Lambeth Labour Party not to make any cuts, using the Labour Link and our delegates to General Councils, etc.
- c) To call on the Trades Council to organize a united front of unions against the cuts, centred on raising awareness, striking against the cuts and solidarity action.
- d) To organize an indicative ballot of members as soon as possible with a view to moving to a formal ballot for escalating strike action against the cuts if the Labour Council does make cuts this year.
Proposed – Jeremy Dewar Seconded – Ruth Cashman
This motion was agreed by an aggregate vote of 91 votes for, 0 votes against and 1 abstention.
Motion Two – Save our Libraries
This branch notes that:
- Two years ago the public accounts committee cautioned that local authorities would soon struggle to deliver statutory services or even stay afloat at all, it was a prescient warning. In the last Public spending round, the Tory government pushed through further cuts in the public sector of £6.1 billion. The overall budget of many authorities has already fallen by as much as a third and Local government grants in England are set to be cut by 56% in the next five years. Lambeth Council have announced that they want to make 1,000 staff redundant over the next two years. We now have to fight to defend the very existence of local government.
- In April 2015 the Council circulated a public consultation document (Culture 2020) which recommended cuts across Libraries and Parks. On Monday 12th October, contrary to the desires expressed in the consultation to keep libraries open, Lambeth Cabinet passed a report which will:
- Hand over three of Lambeth’s Libraries to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to turn into gyms. These are big public assets which are being given away to GLL on 25 year ‘peppercorn’ rents.
- Sell off Waterloo Library and hand Upper Norwood Library to a trust to run the building with no staff
- Cut another 25% of the staff.
- Unison and the Save Lambeth Libraries campaign have organised supporters to oppose the Council’s plans and have lobbied and demonstrated at levels unseen in recent years.
- The Friends of Lambeth Libraries have taken legal action to take the Council to court under Judicial Review on the basis of their failure to consult properly and their failure to provide their statutory obligations under the Public Library Act 1964.
- UNISON members in Libraries have taken one day unofficial strike action to defend their service and have balloted to take official industrial action from the New Year.
We believe that:
- The ideology of ‘Austerity’, which means the transfer of wealth from those in need to those with greed, is not inevitable but a political choice of the current Tory government. Residents in Lambeth have rejected the idea that the local Labour Council should pass the Tory cuts onto the people of Lambeth.
- We need to build the fight by communities and union members against the Council’s austerity cuts.
- Closing half the borough’s libraries is a short-sighted and irresponsible plan; public libraries are an essential part of a functioning literate nation.
We resolve to:
- Support members in Libraries and Archives in any action they decide to take, including industrial action, to fight back against the Councils cuts/closure plans
- Support legal action by the Friends of Lambeth Libraries over the Councils failure to consult appropriately and no longer provide its statutory duty to Lambeth citizens.
- Encourage members to contact their local Councillor and local MPs
- Encourage members to sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lambeth-save-lambeth-libraries.
- Raise within the union the call for London-wide and nation-wide action, including demonstrations, publicity and industrial action, to stop the massacre of national Library services currently underway.
Proposed: Tim O’Dell Seconded: Ruth Cashman
This motion was unanimously agreed by an aggregate vote of 110 votes for.
Motion Three – Living Wage at Lambeth College
This branch notes:
1 That the Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay that allows low-paid workers to afford a decent standard of living. It is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and the Greater London Authority according to the cost of living in the UK. The calculation takes into account things like accommodation, travel, healthy food and ‘little extras like birthday presents’. The current UK Living Wage rate is £8.25 an hour, while the current London Living Wage rate is £9.40 an hour. Employers that have put the Living Wage in place report a range of business benefits including lower staff turnover, higher team morale and higher productivity. Two thirds of employers reported a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation. 70% of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer.
2 That at JNCC in December 2014, Lambeth College management stated that they are committed to paying all staff who work at Lambeth College (including out-sourced workers) at least the London Living Wage (LLW).
3 That since August 2014 the College has brought all out-sourced catering, facilities and security staff back ‘in-house’ and in so doing, has made significant savings on contractor fees and VAT.
4 That all these staff members (caterers, cleaners, porters and security officers) have been brought into an Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO) called ‘SW4 Catering Limited’, where they are employed on terms and conditions drastically inferior to directly-employed staff – inferior pensions, statutory holidays, statutory sick pay and wages that are less than the LLW; many are paid the minimum wage of £6.70 an hour.
5 That a key point of the joint unions’ pay claim is to recommend that the Living Wage is the minimum pay rate in colleges with annual up-rating and to recommend that colleges enter into discussion with the Living Wage Foundation on achieving accredited status.
6 That since 2011/12 Lambeth College’s principal’s salary has risen by 16.7% to £154,000 – with a total remuneration (including pension contributions and benefits in kind) of £178,000. In 2013/14 the average salary costs for the Lambeth College Senior Management Team was £110,444.
This branch believes:
1 That people who work for a living should be paid enough money to live on; the LLW is the MINIMUM rate of pay that allows workers a decent standard of living in London.
2 That the lowest-paid members of staff should not be forced to carry the heaviest burden; Lambeth College can afford year-on-year pay increases for its highest-paid worker (i.e. the principal) and should honour its commitment to be an ethical employer and to pay the LLW.
3 That Lambeth College will benefit from being a Living Wage employer by improving recruitment and retention of staff, raising staff morale and gaining a reputation as an ethical employer.
4 That Lambeth College (and the FE sector in general) has a particular duty to show moral leadership in this issue. Our professed aim is to promote the earning-power and life chances of local people; to help them escape joblessness and lift them out of poverty, yet we pay our own caterers, porters, cleaners and security officers less than the Living Wage.
This branch resolves:
1 To call on Lambeth College (including its Arms-Length Management Organisations such as SW4 Catering Ltd) to make work pay by introducing the London Living Wage, as set by the Greater London Authority and the Living Wage Foundation (LWF), and to seek accreditation with the LWF as a Living Wage Employer.
2 To contact other Lambeth College Trade Unions (UCU, AMiE and the NUS), the Lambeth Trades Council and other Lambeth Trade Unions to ask them to support our Living Wage campaign.
3 To lobby Lambeth councillors and local MPs to ask them to support UNISON’s campaign to make work pay and to encourage Lambeth College to seek accreditation as a Living Wage employer.
4 To write to the Greater London Assembly, London Citizens and local community groups and organisations to ask for their support to encourage Lambeth College to seek accreditation as a Living Wage employer.
5 To contact UNISON’s National FE & 6th Form Colleges Committee to seek their support and to publicise our campaign through the wider union.
Proposed: James Delaney Seconded: Niall McGrath
This motion was agreed unanimously by 107 votes for.
The meeting then had a grouped debate between motions four and five as these were counterposed.
Motion Four – Campaign for a Workers’ Europe
With the formation of “Conservatives for Britain�, the right-wing campaign to exit the EU has begun. Unfortunately, it is likely to be mirrored on the left. A number of Labour MPs and trade unionists will group themselves behind the banner of “Labour for Britain�, saying life will be better for British workers outside the EU.
Other socialist groups will say they will organise an internationalist anti-EU campaign, one that defends the rights of migrants.
They are all setting themselves an impossible task: the automatic right of EU workers to migrate to the UK, and of UK workers to migrate to EU countries, will be ended by UK exit. Those that do arrive after a UK exit are likely to come on worse terms than workers currently do, and they will arrive to a climate poisoned by the xenophobia of the referendum campaign, an atmosphere in which the workers movement and left itself cannot thrive.
A UK outside the EU will offer worse prospects for fighting for workers’ rights than we have staying in.
The nationalist right, no friends to workers, will have the political upperhand in a post-exit UK, and UK workers will lose the possibility of organising a common struggle for better rights by workers across Europe.
The left cannot be anti-EU without being dragged behind the right-wing and anti-migrant backlash. It will raise a tiny voice, inaudible against the right-wing anti-EU campaign which has money, press backing, and establishment support, a campaign that is all about putting up borders and actively restricting migrants coming to the UK. The left-wing voice will be drowned out in the growing nationalist gale.
The concessions Cameron is seeking from the EU also threaten workers’ rights: in the first place, migrant workers’ rights to in-work benefits. He is also likely to seek further opt-outs from those European regulations that benefit workers. Many other EU governments will be sympathetic to Cameron’s vision of the EU: less regulated, more ruthlessly neo-liberal.
The Tories that want to get out and the Tories that want to stay in offer no choice for workers. But we should not be indifferent to the question posed in the referendum. The integration of capitalism results naturally from the process of outgrowing national boundaries, and workers do not have any interest in seeking to turn back the clock of history or re-erect national barriers. We oppose UK exit from the EU.
At the same time, we recognise that the EU, like its constituent member states, is organised primarily in the interests of the bosses and therefore looking to liquidate those elements of “Social Europe� that still remain. We should not join any cross-class alliance with pro-EU Tories or business leaders: we do not positively support bosses’ Europe.
Instead, voices on the left are discussing a campaign for a workers’ Europe in the coming referendum. We will:
• defend migrants’ rights and oppose racism;
• vote against UK withdrawal from the EU;
• campaign for a workers’ Europe, based on solidarity between working people.
Lambeth UNISON resolves to be part of forming such a campaign on this basis.
Proposed – Dan Jeffery Seconded – Ruth Cashman
Motion Five – Trade Unionists for No
Draft resolution to Lambeth UNISON Branch Committee August 18th 2015
This branch believes that as trade unionists who are opposed to austerity policies wherever they originate from, we recognise that the core of the EU treaties stand in complete opposition to the interests of trade unionists and working class people generally.
This branch further believes that the humiliating treatment of the Greek workers by the EU and the secret TTIP negotiations between the EU and the USA confirms the pro-austerity and neo-liberal character of the EU.
Therefore on this basis this branch declares its support for a No vote in the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union due to take place before the end of 2017 and will campaign for Unison to adopt this position.
One of our aims is to commit our Union and other trade unions to officially register with the Electoral Commission as ‘permitted participants’ in the referendum campaign as supporters of a No vote.
We will not allow the official No campaign – and the public money and media platforms it will lead to – to be claimed unchallenged by reactionary politicians and organisations who do not represent working class No voters. As part of this effort, before the Electoral Commission takes its decision, we will organise public debates on the theme, ‘Who should be the voice of No? Trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners – or bankers, Tories and ex-Tories?’
To this end we support the establishment of a Trade Unionists for No steering committee to conduct this campaign, to be open to any national trade union that supports a No position; any working class political party of more than a 1,000 members that supports No; and groups of national executive committee members who support No in unions which take a Yes or neutral position.
Proposed: Andy Tullis, Seconded: Tim O’Dell
The voting on these two motions was 56 votes for Motion Four, 11 votes for Motion Five and 10 active abstentions. Therefore Motion Four was carried and Motion Five was defeated.
Motion Six – No to War in Syria
1 . Lambeth UNISON opposes the Government’s decision to bomb Syria. We condemn those MPs, both Tory and Labour who voted for bombing. We support the stance of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who has opposed the move to war.
2 . We believe that more bombing will only pour fuel on the fire and increase the bitterness across the Middle East that has bred ISIS. Bombing Syria will only make a repetition of the terrible events in Paris more likely.
- We further believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a disaster and laid the basis for the present situation. Cameron’s government and those Labour MPs who backed him are repeating the same terrible mistakes made by the Blair government.
- Lambeth UNISON supports Stop the War, to which UNISON is affiliated nationally, and will support any further mobilisations called by StWC against the war and to encourage all members to attend.
Proposed by Rebecca Townesend Seconded by Tim O’Dell
This motion was agreed by an aggregate vote of 55 votes for, 1 vote against and 4 active abstentions.
Motion Seven – Refugees welcome here
Lambeth UNISON notes
- The worlds is witnessing the biggest movement of people since the Second World War;
- Already this year 3000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe, while thousands more languish in camps in the most appalling conditions;
- The Government’s response has been completely inadequate and has concentrated on seeking to demonise people who fleeing war poverty and persecution not helping them;
- Stand Up To Racism is a broad-based campaign that seeks to challenge racism, Islamophobias and the scapegoating of migrants and refugees.
We believe that:
(a ) The one hundred thousand people who attended the refugees welcome here march in London in October organised by Stand Up To Racism shows that there is widespread public support for allowing more refugees into the UK;
(b) The Government’s austerity measures poise the real threat to peoples’ standard of living not migrants and refugees
(c ) UNISON should continue to campaign to make the slogan refugees welcome here a reality.
We resolve to support
(a) Stand Up To Racism’s Winter Appeal to support the refugees of Calais;
(b) Stand Up To Racism’s national demo on 19th March to mark UN anti-racism day.
Proposed by Rebecca Townesend Seconded by Roger Lewis
This motion was agreed without opposition by an aggregate vote of 64 votes for with 5 active abstentions.
The meeting closed following the vote on motion seven. Following the final session of the meeting, the results of elections which had taken place at the meeting were declared as follows;
Health and Safety Officer
Barry Conmy = 63
Robbie Facey = 11
Edward Owoyemi = 34
National Delegate Conference Delegates
Ruth Cashman/Hassina Malik = 76
Raj Gupta = 44
Simone Mckoy = 54
Ruth Cashman/Hassina Malik
National Local Government Conference Delegates
Ruth Cashman/Hassina Malik = 84
Jackie Lewis = 52
Simione Mckoy = 57
Jon Rogers = 94
There were three (3) Blank Ballot Papers submitted, which therefore have been classified as Spoilt, and consequently not counted