UNISON Scotland Conference Guide 2016

Conference GuideWelcome to National Conference from UNISON Scotland convener Lilian Macer

Who’s who, or handy folk to know.

Scotland policy guide on all the main issues

What’s happening? Guide for new delegates (and old ones who were afraid to ask

Conference briefings and website service

A wee bit about Brighton

For other reports see the UK pages.


Who’s who, or handy folk to know

Lilian Macer and Stephen Smellie, Scotland Delegates

Stephen SmellieLilian MacerLilian and Stephen are elected as Scotland’s reps to Conference by the union’s Scottish Council of branches. See page 6 for details of what they do at Conference and how they can help.

Lilian is from Lanarkshire Health Branch and is UNISON Scotland Convener.

Stephen, from South Lanarkshire Branch, is Depute Convener.

Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary

Mike KirbyMike Kirby is Scotland’s top full time official.  Mike took over as Scottish Secretary in December 2010 after serving as Scottish Convener – Scotland’s lead lay activist – since the merger that created UNISON in 1993.

Mike was also for many years one of Scotland’s lay Regional reps to National Conference. He was 2011/12 STUC President.


Alison Jaconelli, Standing Orders Committee Rep

Alison Jaconelli

Alison Jaconelli from South Lanarkshire Branch is Scotland’s rep on the Standing Orders Committee which sets out the business for the week.

Alison will be the source of information on what’s going on and whether your motion has any chance!




Wendy Nichols, National President

Wendy NicholsWendy Nichols was elected president of UNISON at the 2015 annual conference in Glasgow.

Wendy, from Selby, is branch secretary of UNISON’s North Yorkshire branch and her involvement in unions goes back to the start of her career in the early 1980s. She has been active in UNISON ever since its creation in 1993.

After leaving school Wendy took hotel management and catering courses, following her mum’s footsteps into school meals. She then worked as a cook in a residential care home, then becoming deputy manager.

Wendy has two children and six grandchildren. Wendy has been on the union’s national executive council since 2009 and has been a Labour councillor for 15 years.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary

Dave PrentisDave Prentis was elected in 2000 and then re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2015.

Born and brought up in Leeds, he took a BA in history in London, followed by an MA in industrial relations at the University of Warwick. Dave is a member of the TUC General Council and its executive committee.

On his re-election he said: “The last few months have been challenging, but now the whole union must come together and work relentlessly to fight for public sector workers, their rights at work, their jobs and their pay. I am proud that members have put their trust in me to lead that fight.”


Scotland policy guide on all the main issues

Lilian Macer and Stephen Smellie were elected at the Scottish Council as UNISON Scotland’s delegates to Conference.

Delegates should use them as a source of information and they have a key organisational role.
They can help you liaise with other branches and regions. They will know how debates are organised, who to speak to and, more importantly, how to get to speak.

They will advise on Scottish policy and will speak for UNISON Scotland in debates.
Here, they preview the main debates at Conference, offering comments and advice from a UNISON Scotland policy perspective.

The briefing cannot mandate branches who may have different policies, however it may assist delegates in taking an overview of Conference.

Conference 2016 has 128 motions (10 more than 2015) and 16 rule amendments (down by 12 on 2015).

UNISON Scotland and Scottish branches have submitted 14 motions and amendments which is slightly up from last year. Edinburgh, for probably the first time, has submitted no motions at all which suggests they are quite happy with the way things are thank you very much.

The experience of recent years is that conference will manage to discuss 30 to 35 or so of these motions, many of which will end up in composites agreed by the bodies submitting the original motions.

Therefore if your favourite is not discussed below, it is unlikely to be debated first time around and the only alternative will be in the re-prioritisation exercise. This will take place on Wednesday evening/ Thursday morning, for Friday afternoon’s agenda.

The Standing Orders Committee (SOC) has balloted regions, the NEC, self organised groups, National Young Members’ Forum and the National Retired Members’ Committee on what motions should be prioritised for debate. The Scottish Council meeting in April agreed Scotland’s priorities.
Scotland motions

The following motions involving Scotland have been prioritised.
2. Organising for growth in the community and voluntary sector Scotland
84. Peace must bring social and economic justice in Colombia Scotland
22. Living standards pay justice and the living wage NEC with Scotland and Dundee amendments.
77. The crisis in Syria Newcastle with Scotland amendment
80. Support peace negotiations in Turkey South Lanarkshire
7. Supporting stewards in times of austerity Lanarkshire Health
5. Bullying and young members South Lanarkshire
52. Ethical procurement Police Staff Scotland
45. Public ownership of energy utilities Scottish Electricity
110. Climate change and trade union action South Lanarkshire
54. Welfare and work: Social security provision for all NEC with Dundee amendment.
32. The threat to local democracy South Lanarkshire
29  Keep it local, keep it public Police Staff Scotland

Recruiting and Organising: Motions 1 to 15

Motions in this section of the agenda around recruiting and organising will focus on the union’s organising strategy ensuring it is fit to cope with the onslaught of savage cuts to public services.

This section includes motions and amendments from 1 through to 15 and are supportable from a UNISON Scotland perspective.

There is no doubt that motions relating to the Trade Union Bill would have been prioritised, and rightly so, however events have overtaken with successful developments seeing a number of the actions already enacted.

Motion 2 from Scotland, recognises that the Community and Voluntary sector is a growing part of the delivery of public services and highlights the positive benefits from UNISON Scotland’s Organising for Growth Strategy.

Motion 5 from South Lanarkshire and 5.1 from the Young Members Forum, Bullying and Young Members, highlight with concern the high number of our young members experiencing bullying and harassment in workplaces.

In a recent survey conducted by the Scottish Young Members Committee it was found that 75% of our young members had experienced bullying and harassment of some variety. 7% of the 75% had experienced violence in the workplace.

Motion 6 from the National Executive Council, 6.1 from Lanarkshire Health and 6.2 from City of Glasgow, Islington and London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority highlight the importance of supporting our activist base of 50,000, all delivering valuable roles essential for creating a strong organised union.

The motion notes that we have lost a significant number of experienced activists, particularly our traditional stewards, as a consequence of the austerity agenda and the relentless privatisation of public services since 2010.

Motion 7 from Lanarkshire Health celebrates the work that our army of stewards, health and safety, learning and equality reps do on a daily basis to support and defend our members in the workplace.

Branch Self Organised Groups 13 – 14: We celebrate the fact, that since the birth of UNISON, self-organisation has had an essential and continuing role in the development and participation of black and minority ethnic members, women, disabled people and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members.

However, many UNISON branches do not have their own local self organised groups.  Motions and amendments 13; 13.1; 14; 14.1  (Composite A) propose a range of measures including geographically based groups.

Negotiating and Bargaining: Motions 16 to 27

Motions in the negotiating and bargaining section will cover conditions of service including pay and health and safety in the workplace.

These include motions and amendments from 16 through to 27 and are supportable from a UNISON Scotland perspective.

Motion 19 from the National Executive Council and Motion 20 from Stockport focus on health, safety and wellbeing, highlighting the dangers to employees’ health, safety and wellbeing in theworkplace as they bear the brunt of continual workforce pressures.

Stress, bullying, harassment and violence are all reaching record levels and staff are struggling to cope.

Motion 22, Living Standards Pay Justice and the Living Wage, from the National Executive Council, highlights research by the House of Commons Library in January 2016 which showed that 2010-2020 will be the worst decade for pay growth in almost a century and the third worst since the 1860s.

Amendment 22.1 from Scotland celebrates the launch in Scotland by the Fair Work Convention of a framework which sets out that fair work is work that offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.

There are further amendments 22.2 from Halton, 22.3 from Mid Yorkshire Health and 22.4 from Dundee City which will be taken in this debate.

Campaigning: Motions 28 to 70

Motions 28 to 70 in the campaigning section will cover our campaigning agenda.

Motion 31 from the National Executive Council and associated amendments, put campaigning for our public services and those that provide them at the heart of UNISON’s agenda.

Motion 28 from the National Executive Council, Public Service Campaigning – Stop Outsourcing and Protect Members, and amendments 28.1 and 28.2 highlight the importance of keeping existing public services in-house as the default position for all public services on the grounds that public services offer better quality, accountability, efficiency and social value to citizens, workers and taxpayers.

Motion 29 from Police Staff Scotland, Keep It Local, Keep It Public, highlights that the political agenda of austerity has seen an increasing drive for public sector bodies to cut costs and make savings by way of rationalisation, centralisation and economies of scale.

Motion 32 from South Lanarkshire, the Threat to Local Democracy, highlights that services provided by local government are essential for a civilised society and for the wellbeing of the community and the economy.

These include services essential for the maintenance of health such as environmental and cleansing services; leisure services; social care and services critical to the creation of an educated and informed population and workforce through schools, youth and adult education and libraries.

Housing Crisis 34; 34.1; 34.2; 34.3; 34.4; 34.6: This motion and associated amendments are likely to form a composite (Composite B) and call on the UK Government to invest in a public sector led house building programme which will create homes, jobs, lower housing costs and improve the availability, accessibility and affordability of housing;

Housing Bill 39; 40; 40.1: These motions and amendments are likely to form a composite (Composite C) and call on the National Executive Council to oppose the Tory Government’s Housing Bill in its entirety and to reinstate UNISON’s National Housing Forum as a key means of developing this campaign for a fair and socially progressive housing policy.

Social Care Crisis 41; 41.1; 42; 42.1; 42.2: These motions and amendments are likely to form a composite (Composite D)  for better funding for social care services. They highlight the importance of looking after vulnerable people and the inadequacy of funding arrangements for our councils and the need for better pay and employment conditions for social care workers, while promoting greater trade union organisation across the sector.

Motion 45, Public Ownership of Energy Utilities, from Scottish Electricity seeks to ensure that, through the appropriate resources and channels, we promote our policy of bringing the energy industry back into public ownership with the aim that the next Labour government has this as one of its key commitments.

Ethical Procurement 51 from Somerset County and 52 from Police Staff Scotland: These motions are likely to form a composite (Composite E) and call on the NEC to provide support and guidance to further educate and enable activists to challenge on all matters regarding procurement.

Welfare and Work 54; 54.1; 54.2; 54.3; 55: These motions and amendments are likely to form a composite (Composite F) highlighting the unacceptable circumstances that, since 2010, we have witnessed a systematic dismantling of the welfare and social security safety net through huge Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) budget cuts – £30bn in the last 5 years and another £12bn of cuts yet to come.

International: Motions 77 to 93

The Crisis in Syria, 77 from Newcastle City and 77.1 from Scotland note that for the last five years the people of Syria have suffered appalling levels of suffering, death and destruction, with over 250,000 lives lost since March 2011 and over 11 million forced to leave their homes.

They call for an urgent and substantial international political and humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis based on dialogue, peace, disarmament and respect for human rights and international law, instead of external military intervention.

Palestine: 82, 82.1, 83, 83: These motions and amendments are likely to form a composite raising concerns at the introduction of new laws in Britain, the US and Israel intended to silence those who campaign for the rights of the Palestinian people.

Colombia 84; 84.1; 84.2; 85; 87: These motions and amendments are also likely to form a composite (Composite H), which includes the Scottish motion and an amendment from Lanarkshire Health and notes that the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which began in 2012 are likely to be concluded in 2016.

EU Trade Agreements 92; 92.1; 93: These motions and amendments are likely to form a composite (Composite I) and note that negotiations are continuing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) whilst ratification process of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is likely to start this year.

They call on the union to continue to inform UNISON members and the general public about the dangers of TTIP, TiSA and CETA.

Branch Resources Review: Motions 121 – 124
Support 121 to ensure union’s financial stability and immediate support for branches

This will be one of the most critical debates in the week with important decisions to be made about our union’s future financial stability.

UNISON Scotland has a clear position of support for Motion 121, Gateway to the Future: Stable and Sustainable Branch Resources, from the National Executive Council .

The advice is to oppose Motion 123 Branch Funding from Barnet, Manchester, Salford City and West Sussex, and oppose Motion 124 Branch Funding from Lambeth.

The Branch Resource Review Group has now completed its work and produced a report building from the original motion to NDC in 2011 and subsequent Conferences and this will be debated at this year’s Conference.

The principle adopted by the review group was that branches should be funded on the basis of need however the review group understands that at successive conferences it has been raised by delegates that they are not fully aware of the work of the review group.

In order to ensure delegates from Scotland had a clear understanding of the review group’s work, Scottish Council has received regular updates on its progress.

Indeed, Scotland took the lead in piloting Activity Based budgets which has produced valuable information to support the process and outcomes that can be achieved by this activity.

The NEC motion and the report with 11 recommendations will secure the financial stability of the union, while giving immediate support to branches that are struggling to support members.

The NEC motion is supported but must stand alone to deliver the work of the review group and ultimately deliver for the union.

There are a number of other motions on this agenda item and if they are brought together in a composite the recommendation is that we should oppose as we did at NDC 2014.

Amendments to Rules

The Briefings Team will distribute a separate Scottish briefing on Rule Amendments to delegates on the Wednesday of conference.


What’s happening? Guide for new delegates (and old ones  who were afraid to ask)

With up to 3,000 delegates and visitors, Conference can be a daunting prospect, especially if you don’t know what’s happening.  But now you will, thanks to SiU’s handy guide.

Scotland Meeting
Monday’s Scotland delegates’ meeting gives last minute information and discusses Scottish input. It is also your chance to push your issues. Monday 20 June 5.30pm – An essential meeting to get last minute news and updates. Hilton Brighton Metropole Kings Road Brighton BN1 2FU

Seating Plan
There should be a seating plan in this pack.  We traditionally get at least one seat wrong – so if you find yourself sitting on someone’s knee, it’s likely to be a mistake.

Credentials Bar Code
No this is not a secret sign to get a drink. Your credential card has a bar code which will scan you in. You must wear the card at all times. Wearing it at your waist is not helpful to the stewards, will lead to delays and may end up with more than you expected being scanned!

Conference Guide
This prints all motions submitted. It also has more detailed useful information. You will also get a booklet with composite motions, listed by letters of the alphabet (usually with the numbers of the motions in brackets).

Speaking, speakers lists, timings
Seats for speakers FOR and AGAINST are labelled at the front. If in doubt, staff at the Rostrum Control will help (see page 13).

In any case it is best to tell them you want to speak because they will have a list – and with amendments it is not always clear which seat you should be in. It also helps to speak to the Scottish Regional Delegates first!

Speakers can speak only once in a debate (except for the right of reply). Movers get five minutes.

However, Conference sometimes reduces this. You will get warning to chainsaw all those bits you loved dearly out of your speech. Subsequent speakers get three minutes.

Always start your speech by giving your name and your branch.

HANDY HINT: Have a brief closing remark ready in case you run out of time.
Right of Reply

The mover of a motion is allowed a Right of Reply at the end of the debate or before voting on an amendment (but not both). This is a reply to points raised in the debate and cannot be abused by introducing new stuff (although many try it).

Normally votes are taken by holding up brightly coloured cards and the president will decide whether a count is needed.

If it is close, or a major issue is involved, the chair can call for a branch card vote.  Delegates can also call for a card vote but only if 10% of us shout out with voting cards up immediately. If this is on an amendment, the debate is suspended until the result is known.

Branch card votes are stamped with the voting entitlement of your branch and with either FOR or AGAINST.

The correct number must be used for the particular vote. Get a colleague to check it.

Like any other formal meeting, Conference is run by a series of rules. This often seems very bureaucratic but the system ensures some semblance of order is kept.  The president chairs Conference and their ruling on any issue is final.

Blinkin’ lights and points of order

Timing for speeches is shown by lights on the rostrum…
… but even if you don’t notice the light, there is always some bright spark who will shout ‘time’, usually when they’re not agreeing with you.

It can be useful to have an ‘escape clause’ in your speech to cut to so you can finish on a good note.

The lights mean…

Yellow: means the speaker has a minute to go.

Red: means ‘zip the lip’ now, not after you’ve made ten more points.

Green: means a point of order has been raised and will be heard before the next speaker.
Points of Order

You can move ‘next business’, ‘adjournment’ or ‘private session’ but the most used is ‘that the question be put’.

The president must put this to Conference and, if carried, we go straight to the right of reply, and the vote on the motion or amendment. (The chair can caution there has not been enough debate.)

This move is especially helpful when there are a host of speakers for a motion and none against.
You can only move most points of order if you haven’t already spoken in the debate.

Handy Hints
Card Votes
– If you split your vote, make sure the figures add up. Get someone to check.
– make sure you’ve SIGNED it.
– and that the branch name is on it.

Get your photo in advance
– If you haven’t done it online, get your credential photo in advance. Photo booths are few and far between.

– We hope the briefings will be of some use to you. But for safety, do not leave papers on the floor.
– Don’t leave mobile phone ringers on.
– Don’t walk in front of the signers.
– Lots of people will be pushing papers at you as you come to Conference. Not taking one does not make you a bad person!

Rough Guide to Conference

After years of being caught out by jargon and sneaky procedural wheezes, your SiU scoop brings you a rough guide to help you out.

Standing Orders Committee (SOC)
Comprises reps elected by each Region (ours is Alison Jaconelli) and three from the NEC who organise the order of business, composites and so on.  A report will be issued each morning on the day’s business and probably future business – this is really important to understanding what is going on. Sometimes their rulings are challenged but it rarely makes sense to do so since the committee reflects regions’ priorities.

NEC Positions
Most motions haven’t got a chance of being heard and will be referred to the NEC, or somewhere. So it is worth looking to see what position the NEC has taken on your motion.

Agenda and Priorities
The running order (you’ll get one at Conference) is set after consultation with regions on priorities. Motions are grouped into ‘themes’ to avoid duplication and the risk of voting against what we’d voted for earlier (yes we’ve done that before!).

Friday priorities
Come Friday (oh, come, come Friday), there is a chance to re-prioritise your pet motion that was not reached. On Wednesday we will circulate branches with a form to pick their priorities for Friday afternoon. These will be collated and go to the SOC which will set out a Friday pm agenda that reflects Conference’s wishes. That can be an eye-opener!

Emergency motions
Conference has to vote to hear emergency motions in the first place (after the SOC has decided it is an emergency and is relevant and competent). To qualify for an emergency, it must have been impossible to submit the motion’s subject matter before the deadline.

An amalgam of similar motions drawn together into one motion that nobody likes! Not fair really, because many composites do succeed in combining areas of agreement through negotiation. You will get a composites booklet before Conference and new ones issued throughout the week.

Suspending Standing Orders
A super wheeze (needing a two thirds majority) to do something that’s not on the agenda. To be avoided in most cases because it cuts across agreed priorities and of course stops Conference making decisions.

Grouped Debates
Where a pile of similar motions and amendments are all moved one after the other, there is an all-in debate and we vote on them one after the other at the end.

Reference Back
Reports, such as the annual report or standing orders report, are presented to conference for approval. If someone is unhappy with part of the report they can ask for ‘reference back’, meaning the committee or working group that prepared the report should reconsider that section.

When the NEC asks for a motion to be referred to them for further clarification, elaboration, or investigation.

Scottish delegates
Lilian Macer and Stephen Smellie are this year’s Scottish Regional delegates.  They are there to help, especially if you want to get into a debate – they’ll tell you how, who to see, and if you’re not careful (or lucky), what to say! Sincerely folks, they are an essential source of advice, information and help.


Conference briefings and website service

The Scottish Communications and Campaigns Committee, along with the Regional Delegates, will issue daily briefings during Conference week (new rules mean we are only allowed one briefing a day).

It is not a ‘News’ service after the event (after all you were there), it is for briefing delegates before the event.

However, we will issue some special reports as a basis for branch reports back home. We will also be updating the website with most of what goes out in print so you can get easy access at www.unison-scotland.org/news/conf2016.

The service is also there to be used by branches to promote motions within Scottish policy.
In exceptional circumstances we can also help from our own resources with typing and communications with branches, media etc back home.

Your contact is John Stevenson, SiU editor, along with Kate Ramsden. Other committee members will be helping out too. It would be really helpful if speakers could let the team know when they are speaking (so we can get a photo) and provide a copy of their speech for the reports.


A wee bit about Brighton

by John Stevenson
BrightonIf you find you have any time off (after 5pm of course) and you find you’ve exhausted all the fringe meetings here is a brief guide of what Brighton has to offer.

Brighton has plenty of trendy bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as traditional British pubs and restaurants. There is a lively LGBT scene.

The Lanes
The Lanes, an area of winding alleys and hidden squares and passages, are the historical heart of the fishing town of Brighthelmstone which is easy for me to say.

There is a wide range of ‘new age’ shops and up-market jewellery.  They also boast coffee shops and specialist restaurants, as well as the traditional pubs.

North Laine
North Laine is known as the ‘cultural quarter’, with 300 or so shops, as well as cafes, bars, pubs and theatres.  The Royal Pavilion, Brighton museum & art gallery and theatres are all around here.

Beachfront and Piers
Famous for its pebble beach and piers, the beachfront area offers a host of attractions and you can hire deck chairs (contact the Briefings Team for instructions on how to knot your hankies!).

The fishing quarter has a museum, modern art trail and seafront artists’ quarter.

The Sealife Centre is also on the seafront near the pier.

The Palace Pier is the only pier in England to be open year-round. Deckchairs again with amusement arcades and fairground rides and games, souvenir shops, fish and chips and even a pub.

By night, the beachfront clubs are jumpin’ (we’re told). There is also open-air cinema, free performances at the Ellipse area, music on the beach, and shows and concerts at the seafront near Brighton Centre.

Brighton Pavilion
Building on this Regency But ‘n’ Ben in the elaborate Indo-Saracenic style began in1787 as a retreat for the somewhat decadent George IV, then the Prince of Wales.
The pavilion is home to the finest collections and examples of the chinoiserie style in Britain.

History/ Politics
A branch of the Social Democratic Federation was first formed in Brighton in 1889. Organised trade unionism had begun long before with the arrival of the railway and railway engineering in the 1840s.

But it wasn’t until 1986 that the Labour Party won control of the council. The party also won control of the unitary authority from 1997 to 2003 when Brighton and Hove went to no overall control with the Tories as the biggest party.

From 2007, the Greens were famously the biggest party but in 2015 they lost 12 seats while Labour increased their tally by 12 making it the biggest party on 23 seats and it now forms the minority administration.

It has a major task as it faces Government cuts of £168 million from its budget, and Tory plans that mean Brighton may have to sell £28 million worth of its local homes each year.

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