Conference 2019 – Branch Report

Representatives from Cwm Taf Local Government Area Branch of UNISON recently attended this year’s Local Government Service Group Conference and the National Delegates Conference

The conferences were held in Liverpool from the 16th to 21st of June.

The branch sent 4 delegates consisting of one male and 3 female based on proportionality of members and the size of the branch.

Local government kicked off on the Saturday night with the branch delegates attending the Local Government Delegates meeting.  Helen Burton, the Welsh Representative on the Local Government Standing orders committee gave a very comprehensive report on the order of business. Helen is from our branch and it is great to know that we are taking an active role in the union not just at a local level but on a national level as well.

Sunday morning dawned and conference got underway at 9:30, motions debated during the morning session covered the crisis in Social Care, Knife Crime and cuts to Youth and Community services.

The afternoon session concentrated on Regional Pay Bargaining, School Funding and the exclusion of HE and FE staff from being able to join the Local Government Pension Scheme.  This was an important debate as it could have an impact on the long term viability of the LGPS and the thin edge of the wedge on who would be next in being excluded from the scheme.

Monday morning the conference debated Zero Hour Contracts, Negotiating Disability Leave Policies and Opposing the Cap on Exit Payments. The debate on Exit Payment Caps has grave repercussions as the Government is looking to put a cap of £95,000 on exit payments, this seems a lot at first but when you look at the enhanced redundancy and the pension payment lump sum added together and this would not only affect Chief Officers but a lot of our members right across the pay scales.

The final session on Monday afternoon covered motions covering Funding Cuts across local Government Services, Income Generation, Councils at Breaking Point and Facilities Time.

All 43 motions that were submitted to local Government Conference and admitted to the agenda were successfully debated and voted on.

Conference closed at 5:00

National Delegates Conference started for the branch delegates at 6:00 on Monday night when a delegates meeting was held for the full Welsh Delegation and visitors covering the all the service group in Wales.

At the meeting the provisional agenda was discussed and consequences were explained to the meeting by the welsh representative on National Delegates Standing Orders Committee.  Peter Crews Welsh Regional Convenor chaired the meeting and during the meeting delegates were picked to speak on motions or to move motions that were from the Cymru / Wales Region.

Also T shirts were given out which had Cymru /Wales on the front and a Welsh Dragon on the back. This was for all Welsh delegates to wear on the Wednesday to higher the profile of Wales and to show support to Sian Stockham one of Cymru/Wales NEC Members but also a Vice President of UNISON who would be Chairing the conference on Wednesday Morning.

Tuesday Morning 18th June at 10:00 Conference opened, the mornings business was taken up with Standing Orders Report, the Annual Report and the Financial Statement for the year ending December 2018.

This was followed by the President’s Speech and finally in the morning session a composited debate on Justice for the Windrush Generation.

After lunch there were debates on Apprentices, the year of the Young Worker and the General Secretaries address and then returned to the order of business.

Wednesdays Conference commenced at 9:30 and in the morning session debates took place relating to Branch Resources, Developing, Organising Resources in the Branch and Regions and Growing the Union. These debates were important in respect that UNISONS structure has not changed since UNISON was formed, but work has changed with lots of services now outsourced making the old structure unmanageable.  The debates have now allowed UNISON to carry out a head to foot review.

In the afternoon there was a guest speaker from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. And motions were debated  on Curbing Corporate Power and a composite on Cuba.  Then conference returned to the Motions on the remaining Order of business.

Thursday Mornings Conference debated motions relating to Brexit and the effect that Brexit would have on Public Services.  The afternoon session was Rule Changes and the Cymru/Wales Region were very active in trying to get a Rule change accepted that would allow branches to have a choice that if they wanted they could elect to have AGMs every two years instead of yearly. This sadly was defeated; however we will try again next year.

Friday Morning had a guest Speaker speaking on Nelson Mandela and the legacy and how it was helping communities followed by a composite on Nelson Mandela. The remaining order of Business was then returned too.

Friday afternoon was when the Reprioritised Motions were debated and conference tried to debate as many of these as possible until conference ran out ot time at 3:30.

All together it was a very successful conference and it was good that the branch took a new activist to conference who enjoyed conference very much and gained valuable experience in how UNISON worked. The branch delegates attended many Fringe meetings both at lunch time and after conference, and also some branch delegates had regional and national responsibilities which required them to attend meetings in the evenings after conference.

It was a very busy week, and also very tiring, but it was enjoyed by the branch delegates, who contributed as a branch to the Cymru/Wales Region.