Time for an end to the witch-hunt
The mood for unity at the conference fed into opposition to the witch-hunt against left wing activists inside the union.
More than 200 delegates held a lunchtime protest outside the conference venue.
This followed a packed fringe meeting which heard from Yunus Bakhsh, Glenn Kelly and Caroline Beadale. All three have faced disciplinary action from the union.
A motion at conference called for a two year limit to suspensions from union office.
It was designed to limit the disciplinary action that could be taken against activists.
The motion won majority support, but very narrowly failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to amend the rules.
The vote is a sign of growing unease at punitive measures against activists at a time when the union needs unity.
Support for United Left
Over 150 delegates attended a United Left meeting addressed by John McDonnell MP, Unison general secretary candidate Paul Holmes and Martin Smith from Unite Against Fascism.
Full backing for Palestinian rights
Delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion supporting Palestinian self-determination, including a review of the union’s relationship with Israel’s Histadrut union, which supported the state’s raid on the Freedom Flotilla.
Labour and the union – weak link
A discussion of the union’s affiliated political fund, which gives money to Labour, showed the erosion of links between many Unison branches and the party.
A delegate from Northumberland said only 12 full-time workers in his branch pay into the Labour fund, but 1,800 pay into the union’s general political fund.