Election vs Appointment of Officials.
Executive oppose the election of officials or selection of various committees on the basis that it would damage accountability by denying EC and GS management of employees.
Officers might be tempted to focus on a few large groups for votes than serving all their members interests.
Elections would through out the process of assessment centres for selection that encourages a diverse shortlist of candidates.
Movers of amendments to Election:
· Candidates have specific or specialist knowledge of constituents ie. Construction sector.
· Regional Secretaries should be elected by regional members not appointed by GS & EC in a process that is seen as political.
· Encourages involvement of members at grass roots level.
Executive Statement AGREED, therefore all other motions REJECTED ie. no election of officials.
Rule 18 Workplace Representation
First amendments dealt with tidying up.
18/3 seeks to require minimum of 5 members to appoint a rep -REJECTED. Conference speakers said it would be the death of starting to organise, plus a lot of workplaces within some sectors such as printing were very small ie. Less than 10 employees and of course not all are likely to be members.
18/4 requires new reps to receive appropriate training within 12 months and additional appropriate training for re-elected reps. Some felt it did not go far enough and noted delays and over subscribed training courses. AGREED
18/5 Increased support of union reps at work including fuller support and investigations into cases of discrimination and dismissal. AGREED
Labour Party Debate
EC statement rejected change to rules at this time and maintain affiliation to Labour.
Amendments ranged between minor changes to the relationship to disaffiliation from Labour altogether and various positions in between.
Impassioned speakers on both sides of the argument, making some very valid and persuasive points.
EC Statement 2 was AGREED and all amendments REJECTED.
The Political Fund
22/10 Call to return political fund money 30% - to the regions for the furtherance of Regional Political strategies. REJECTED
Labour Party Conference
22/12 Call that delegation to the LPC comprise an equal part of lay members. AGREED
NR1 A new section of rules dealing with Community and Student membership enabling the activities of this section of activists. AGREED
3/1 A comprehensive rule amendment from the EC that incorporates a range of memberships into rule. Encompasses some other amendments (one of which withdrew in favour of EC amendment). AGREED.
3/6 Amendment seeking to clarify rule around members workplace determining constitutional matters. Consequence that this may bar activists who work in one area for being active where they live if different. REJECTED.
EC Statement 3: Retired members at Policy & Rules Conferences and Executive Council. Provides for observer status but not full delegate places. Many amendments sought to give voting rights at one body or more. EC Statement AGREED.
10/1 & 15/1 some tidying up of various rules. However subsequent amendments aim to award delegate rights to Regional Council Retired Member observers. 10/1 &15/1 AGREED
27/1 Increased powers to suspend and discipline in light of increasing attacks including cyber bullying against reps and activists carrying out legitimate union duties. Speakers spoke of a lot of hate crimes being perpetrated with especial vitriol against women activists. AGREED.
14/4 Fairness in electoral processes, notifications etc. AGREED.
14/6 Audit of industrial sectors of the membership to make sure that those standing for office are indeed from that sector. EC opposed stating that they already verify data. Pat had right to reply and commented that EC statement was Bollocks to much applause. 14/6 AGREED (after a call for tellers and even more people obviously supporting so tellers dismissed!)
14/12 Addressed some exiting rule but also sought to have a BAEM delegate to EC from each Region. REJECTED.
14/14 Amendment to limit EC members to 3 terms. REJECTED after some good debate.
14/20 Prohibits EC members from being stand down officers during term of office. AGREED (after tellers called).
Election of EC and GS
16/1 EC amendment makes a wide number of changes to electoral processes to deal with some actual issues. REJECTED by conference after tellers called.
16/16 Enabling new clause for the mid term election and representation of sectors on the EC. AGREED.
A large number of other amendments were REJECTED.
16/2 Seeks to put the election of EC members after the election of workplace reps and not before, so as to ensure that EC members are current, otherwise there could be the position that an EC member could be elected yet a few months later not be elected as a workplace rep that would require a new election to the EC. Unfortunately, the rule amendment is determined by a preceding rule that throws the GS into the mix and requires him to be a workplace representative. REJECTED.
19/2 Seeks to require quarterly financial reporting to some detail opposed heavily as it would hand ammunition to enemies of the Union. 19/2 REJECTED.
19/4 To set up a central fund that would fund sign language interpreters at branch, other meetings and events to enable deaf members to participate as fully as possible in the union. AGREED
21/1 Expenses policy to be applied consistently over the functions of the union including education. AGREED.
NR/2 New rule that creates an executive for Scotland within Unite to accommodate a new political, economic and social reality within Scotland. It is not about splitting up the union, but enables Unite is Scotland to best represent their members at a local level.
NR/3 As NR/2 but in addition addresses/enables the sector policy to be determined in Scotland.
Group A4 amendments
EC amendment was generally supported from the floor except with the exception of a deferred (2018) age change from 30 to 27 as the upper age limit to being classed as a young member. The Unite Young Members committee believe that in order to be relevant to young workers at the lower end of the age range that the upper should not be so distant. Some opposition from delegates who became active as Young Members in their late 20's and found the structure very useful for developing and progressing their union activism.
EC amendment was AGREED and also 14/1 was AGREED, giving Young Members a seat on the EC.
Lay Office (rule 6)
6/1 AGREED which brings Young Members further into the structures plus some clarifying points (EC amendment).
6/2 Seeks to give community activists more rights within regional equalities structures to hold office. REJECTED EC and conference recognised that these are not accountable workplace representatives or, if LGBT or disabled, members in employment.
6/8 Moved by the East Midlands and reinforces the principles of representation by members in employment and elected to hold office as accountable workplace reps and also addresses some points of discipline, for periods of transition with regards to work and/or victimisation of reps at work which may affect their representative status unfairly. REJECTED
Concern expressed by some conference delegates that it contains some harsh elements ie that if someone loses their job then they also lose their positions in the office.
6/12 To enable constitutional regional LGBT and Disability equalities committees to comprise of community members where accountable representatives or members in employment are not available. REJECTED
6/S Addresses 2 situations one to deal with some members who poach members for another union, or people who suddenly become members to stand for election (ie employer plants) and may leave soon after and the other that a candidate for EC is up to date with their subs (not 13 weeks or more in arrears). AGREED
14/19 EC members not to hold any position on their elected constitutional committees but are able to attend as observers. REJECTED
17/7 Seeks to expand explicit single equality officers in rules by suggestion rather than by mandate. REJECTED
17/9 Seeks to keep roles of Secretary and Treasurer separate plus require two signatories on cheque book. EC opposed as two prescriptive and might harm small branches where people have to hold two roles. REJECTED
17/11 Extends support and undertaking to investigate where branch officers are subject to victimisation. AGREED.
2/1 to delete the requirement to always act within the law. GS spoke and asked if it was reasonable for gay men pre 1967 not to engage in sexual relationships just because elected governments said so. Also drew on GCHQ when Mrs T outlawed trade unionism. Union needs to be able to break the law where it is unreasonable and unjust and oppresses the people and workers.
NR5 & NR6 dealing with Grievance Procedures were remitted following debate to the NEC.
11/1 A number of items covered by the EC, importantly allowing equality delegates to attend RISCS. AGREED.
11/4 - puts a cap on BAEM and Women election places to 50%. REJECTED
11/5 includes situations where men might be in a minority. REJECTED
11/6 remitted as some issues with it. Dealt with areas where basic proportionality could not be met.
11/8 calls for equalities committees to be staggered. REMITTED following assurances for this to be reviewed.
11/9 calls for equalities committees to be run consecutively. Also REMITTED on the same basis as 11/8
11/7 looking to include Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans within BAEM definition. REMITTED following heavy opposition from conference and EC.
12/9 wants delegates to Policy Conference directly from National Equality Committees REMITTED
12/10 Similar but from Regional Committees REMITTED
13/6 Same proposal, different wording, to 12/9 REMITTED
13/4 & 13/5 Want to amend rule to remove EC ability to amend rule between conferences (excepting legal requirement) and recall conference. REJECTED.
15/2 Fixed term of office of 5 years for GS. AGREED
15/3 Provisions for Deputy GS should something happen to GS
8/2 Splitting London and Eastern Regions. A lot of L&E delegates spoke against REJECTED
8/4 Replace Area Activists with District Committees constituting a wider and more diverse and inclusive range of activists. REJECTED.
4/1 Amendments to deal with non payment of subs and how it will affect membership. AGREED
4/5 Dispute benefit at the level of the living wage. REJECTED
4/6 Addresses issue of lapsed members and services not being available during the period of lapse. AGREED
NR4 Observer seat to EC currently do not sit in any Region. Mover of speech spoke well and gained the popular acclamation of conference. AGREED
Education Dept Tutors
12/14 Tutors employed by Unite are not able to attend Policy Conference as delegates. AGREED
13/12 As above but Rules Conference. AGREED
6/9 Period of office for reps to be changed from 3 years to 2. REJECTED
12/5 Policy Conference to be held ever year instead of every 2. REJECTED
NR/7 Putting all constitutional conferences on a 3 year cycle. REJECTED
12/13 Electronic voting at Policy conference. REMITTED
13/8 Electronic voting at Rules conference. REMITTED
East Midlands Youth Workers, Community & Not For Profit Sector
East Midlands LGBT
Post Rules Conference Analysis of Equalities Amendments.
The Equalities activists did gain an important right in rule, which is the ability of a Regional Equality Committee delegate (not Retired) to attend their own Regional Industrial Sector Committee. This is in addition to the RISC being able to send delegates who identify with an Equality group to the appropriate REC.
Two similar amendments sought to stagger or make consecutive specific equalities conferences in order to enable people with multiple identities the opportunity to participate in the appropriate conferences.
There was opposition from the EC and both main caucuses in their respective literature, opposing the amendments.
The AGS for Equality spoke against the proposal and said there was a joint plenary session of all the groups.
Movers of both amendments therefore chose to remit in the face of this opposition rather than lose them altogether.
Another amendment sought to broaden out the principles of proportionality for elections to include LGBT and Disabled members. It was clear in its wording even though some people felt otherwise. This had EC opposition too, not least because the union database does not hold sufficient data on members who self identify as LGBT and disability.
The mover of the amendment did produce Unites own statistics for his sector that demonstrated a large constituent of LGBT new members.
Discussions held outside of conference about how LGBT and Disability EC seats are elected by all members and not their respective committees. This is a continuing and oppressive practice of communities not being able to have sole choice of who their representatives are.
Points for consideration:
There is a clear lack of consistency between Equality Groups with LGBT and Disabled members being the most disadvantaged and denied the same level of service and representation as some other equalities communities. This is evidenced by the current arrangements of the equalities conferences (affects black members too), the disregard for proportionality and the denial of each communities right to choose its own representatives.
The notion that all equalities conferences get to discuss each others issues at a plenary is untrue and misleading. Plenaries are used as platforms for the General Secretary to address all the conferences at once (we want the GS present) but mostly as an opportunity for a Labour MP to show their face and tell us what they think we want and to make up excuses for why they wont deliver real equality.
Retired members also experience some disadvantage in that they don't stop being Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority, LGBT or disabled. Some consideration should be given to enable them to have subgroups within the retired members structure or may be even observers to other equalities structures.
LGBT delegates need to organise prior to conferences and agree a strategy and also some social activities to ensure new and existing delegates are not left isolated. It might also be the case that other equality groups would benefit from doing this too.
Equalities delegates have defied EC and caucus opinion in predecessor rules conferences with success. Our delegates need to rediscover this confidence and not allow others with little first hand knowledge to tell us what they want and need.
It would also be a clear advantage for all equalities groups to liaise more and develop more joined up narrative to address issues of policy and rule, thus increasing success at conference.
Consideration should also be given by Equalities groups of holding their own fringe event, if not at a conference venue then at a venue of their own choosing.