Black Members’ Conference – February 2015


Aleya and Janice attended the Unison National Black Members’ Conference in Brighton, which was held on 6-8 February.  Their report is below.

We attended the ‘Black members’ – defending public services’ conference in February, which was a three day event.

This conference takes place annually, and it was the first time AQA had sent representatives.  The number of delegates attending was 620, which was the largest in 30 years (including Europe).  The Black members want to ensure that there is fairness in society despite social class, colour of skin, disability, sex orientation etc.

Regional meetings were set up which gave us a chance to meet other UNISON members from the North West.  Our Chair, Mirza Hamie gave a summary of the past and upcoming campaigns, activities and strategies in the North West.

There was a variety of workshops organised, which delegates could choose to attend. Delegates were encouraged to participate in discussions.

There were a number of guest speakers including Margaret Greer (NBMC Chair), Brian Fitch (Mayor of Brighton & Hove), Dave Prentis (UNISON General Secretary), Lucia McKeever (UNISON President), Geoff Palmer (Professor of Heriot Watt University).

Over the three days there were over 30 Motions submitted by various, groups which delegates were asked to vote on.  Almost all the Motions were put forward to the next stage.

A play was put on titled ‘So you think I’m crazy’, which was greatly attended and acted. The play portrayed the effect that mental illness has on family and friends

Although the travelling and having to attend each day was tiring (9am – 9pm), we really enjoyed the event and valued this experience.  This has given us an insight to how a UNISON conference runs, and a greater understanding in many topics, where Black members can influence and help shape our society, and give Black members equality.

We hope to attend the next annual conference in 2016.


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Conference News – the union defending its activists

Today Unison conference voted to support its activists.  They are the backbone of this union.  Speaker after speaker talked of the sustained attacks they have suffered at the hands of employers.  Inspiring was the fight backs and support the activists have received from both members and the union.  There is also the emotional burden stewards carry.  A speaker talked about how a member at her branch committed suicide because he couldn’t carry on.  Unison will promote mental health awareness training and provide a counselling service for activists.

The impact of the cuts is having a disproportionate effect on minority groups.  The high rates of unemployment, lack of good quality affordable housing and reduction in services are having a detrimental impact on minority groups.  But immigrants are being blamed when it is austerity that isn’t working.  A speaker from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies said that £21 billion of public money was spent in  2009 which rose to £22 billion after the cuts.  Manchester Mental Health Services spent 4% on administration in 1982.  Before the Health Service is now required to tender services, administration costs have risen to 18% of the budget.  (In America administrative costs are 29% of the total budget).  The speaker made a very important point, if private companies are so innovative and efficient, why do they need contracts from public services.

The biggest worry for Unison, its members, working people, all minority groups is the return of a ConDem government.

I hope you have found my posts, informative and have given you a flavour of Conference.  Thank you for letting me be your delegate.  Mary




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Conference News

Some members may wonder why Unison spends time debating International Issues.  We live in a global economy where employers have no compunction outsourcing work to other countries.  It is essential that trade unions across the world work together for good levels of pay and conditions of service for everyone.  Conference heard many inspirational stories about trade union activists in Colombia.  The media likes to portray the problem as being drugs.  It is really about a right wing government oppressing its people and where being a trade unionist is likely to get you killed.

Thursday afternoon of Conference is about rule changes.  The major debate was about changes the working practices of Unison to devolve more resources down to branch level.  There is an issue about funding but that will form part of the agenda for Conference 2016.  The motion was lost.  Other debates were on Retired Members (yes we can be members of the BEC), members who resigned before they are dismissed, a Disabled Officer position on the BEC and whether or not members should be required to declare membership of the Free Masons.

Did you know that the richest 50 families collectively have the same amount of money as 3.5 BILLION poorest?  Unison have got a Tshirt – Get Angry and Fight Back.  I think we should do a bulk order.  Mary

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Conference News – Did you know?

I have just been to a lunch time fringe meeting about trade union rights.  Did you know

  • you live in the 6th richest county in the world
  • we have some of the most regulated strike laws in the world.  In fact this country’s laws have been condemned by the Court of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation.
  • salaries in workplaces with trade unions are 16.5% higher than non-unionised work places.


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Conference News – a Health Service fit for the future

This morning Conference debated a Health Service for the future.  Although this ConDem government promised to protect the health service, there is going to be a shortfall of 2 billon pounds this year alone.  Waiting lists are getting longer, services are being withdrawn and massive cuts are being implemented.  You may ask where is all the money going.

Private Finance Initiatives or PFI are a cause of some of the shortfall.  Hospital Trusts are having to pay back billions for new hospitals.  For example, this year alone private companies are investing 55 billion on PFI projects but the public purse (that’s our money) will pay back 301 billion to these companies.  Unison has voted that a future Labour government needs to nationalise these hospitals and refuse to pay big business any more money.  Other ways that private companies are bleeding the NHS of funds is maintenance contracts, £1500.00 to put up a curtain rail and £1200.00 to maintain it.

Health Commissioning Boards are responsible for privatising the NHS.  They are putting out for tender contracts for services such as Staffordshire where a 1 billion contract has gone out for end of life cover and cancer services.  As one private company stated, they are not in the business of saving lives but making profits.

NHS staff are looking at downgrading – the evaluation system being run by a private company.  NHS staff are currently being balloted for industrial action.  Apparently if you are a Chief Executive Officer or a Senior member of staff, you are worth a nice bonus.  But the Minister for Health is ignoring the recommendations of the Pay Review Body and has decided that NHS staff are not worth a rise of 1%.

Next year is a general election.  If left in power, this ConDem government will fully privatise the Health Service.  Unison says that both health and social care should be free at the point of delivery.  It is your responsibility to make sure we have a government that will do this.  Mary

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Conference Update

Unison Conference never disappoints.  Inspirational speakers and debates.  If you have never been, you should volunteer.  So far I have been to a rally with International speakers.  It is only by trade unions working together that we will achieve good pay and t&c.  As long as there are people in poverty companies are going to move their business to ‘save money’.

The branch needs to get active on the TTIP.  This has important ramifications for you.  If this agreement goes ahead it means that multi national companies will be able to dictate government policies, remove employment protections and decide your pay – the Egyptian government are being sued by an mult-national company for increasing the minimum wage.  Paul will have more details.

One of the international visitors is from Colombia where being a trade union rep can cost you your life.  It makes me feel very humble.

I am signing off for now.  Will sent more as the Conference progresses.



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National Delegate Conference

The National Delegate conference takes place in Brighton this week.  Watch here and on our Facebook page for updates and reports.  Providing we can access it at the conference centre!



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Election updates

Congratulations to our very own Mary Whitby, who was elected Labour Councillor for Besses ward in Bury at the local elections recently.

Also, congratulations to our Local Organiser, Beth Knowles, who was elected Labour Councillor for Manchester Central, and to Theresa Griffin, our former Regional Organiser, who was elected as Labour MEP in the European elections.

I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking them all for their service to our Branch, and wishing them luck as they take on their new roles.

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Annual General Meeting – 19 March 2014

The AGM was held on 19 March 2014.  Speakers from UNISON Welfare and Manchester Credit Union attended and gave some very useful information about the services that they offer.

The new Branch Committee were elected, details can be found on the ‘About Us‘ page.  The Minutes from the meeting will be available on the AGM page shortly.

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Regional Council – 18 January 2014


The Regional Council meeting was held in New Brighton on 18 January.

The guest speaker at this meeting was Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey.

Agenda items included a presentation to Diane Kelly, who was retiring as Regional Convenor.

Three motions were put to the Council:

Octopus Lottery – submitted by North West Regional Welfare Committee

Council urges:

1  All branches to sign up to the Octopus Lottery and/or to consider making a regular donation to UNISON Welfare

2  Encourage members to sign up as individuals

This will give ‘There For You’ a regular income and the ability to assist members who are facing hardship.

(For more information on Octopus Lottery, click here.)

Zero Hours and Agency Workers – submitted by Salford City UNISON Branch

UNISON North West resolves:

1  To approach and work with the TUC and other affiliated unions to instigate a national campaign against Zero Hours Contracts and the misuse of Agency staff.

2  To immediately enter into negotiations with any employer using Zero Hour contracts and agency staff.

3  To use all methods available to us, up to and including industrial action where an employer fails to eradicated these practices.

4  To highlight and support all local campaigns against Zero Hour contracts and the misuse of Agency staff.

Defend Services and Jobs in Lancashire – submitted by Lancashire Branch

Regional Council agrees:

1  To show solidarity and support for the Branch in our campaign to protect services and oppose compulsory redundancies and cuts to terms and conditions should they arise.

2  To ask all North West branches to provide messages of support and attend a lobby of the full council meeting on 20 February at lunch time at County Hall Preston.

All three motions were passed by Regional Council.


Regional Council also agreed to submit the following motions to the National Delegate Conference:

Trade Unions and Political Influence

National Delegate Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

Campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the political fund review ballot

Oppose any increase in state funding of political parties

Campaign for a future Labour Government to repeal anti-union legislation on lobbying introduced by the Con-Dems

Bhopal – Supporting the Campaign for Justice

Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

1  Publicise and raise awareness of the Bhopal disaster amongst Regionsl, Branches and Members.

2  Support the survivors’ campaign for justice and encourage Regions, Branches and Members to support, participate and affiliate to organisations and campaigns such as the Bhopal Medical Appeal who support survivors of the disaster and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

3  Work with UNISON Labour Link to raise the matter polically.

4  Commit UNISON to continue campaigning for strong health and safety in the workplace.


An update on the 2013 regional work programme, and the 2014 programme were provided.

If you want any more information about the agenda, please email us.

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