Keeping conference right – the role of the National Women’s Standing Orders Committee

Standing Orders Committee photo
Women’s Conference Standing Orders Committee. Dianne O’Donnell at the table on the left.

Scotland’s representative on the National Women’s Standing Orders Committee (SOC) Dianne O’Donnell, shares her experience in this busy role.

This is my first time on a Standing Orders Committee (SOC) although I have been to numerous conferences. I have found the work of the committee very interesting and thought I’d share a bit about the role of an SOC.

Every UNISON Conference has their own elected SOC which plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth running of the conferences. For Self-Organised Group Conferences like the Women’s conference the SOC have to ensure that the motions and amendments submitted are in line with UNISON’s Objectives and UNISON’s rules and that they are also specific to that Self-Organised Group.

The Women’s SOC is made up of 12 members – one elected from each UNISON region. We met initially in November, then December and then just prior to conference starting.

In November we met to review the submitted motions, checking that the motions were women specific, and  ensuring that they are in line with UNISON’s objectives and  rules. We also checked that the actions requested were viable and called on correct body for action – e.g National Women’s Committee, Labour Link, NEC. We then looked at what motions could be merged together (called a composite) and at  what motions were similar and could be heard together in group debates.

In December we looked at requested amendments to ensure they didn’t try to completely alter the original motion and again met same criteria as above. We also looked at appeals against our decision to reject motions due to not meeting the criteria.  Just prior to conference starting we met to review emergency motions.

During the conference we monitor order of business, listen to any requests for clarity or changes from conference delegates as well as giving Standing Order Reports to Conference.

The last thing we do is the fun thing which is to review the requests for bucket collections. To make a decision we look at what other funding the charity has, is it a charity that already receives UNISON support and is it a local cause. That’s how we came to the decision this year to support Cuddle Cots and Street Vets, which was proposed by Scotland’s Liz Young.

My first SOC was very interesting and I look forwards to taking part in it again next National Women’s Conference.

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