Socialist Worker

Delegates' rage at Unison higher education conference

by Rick Lighten (pc)
Issue No. 2294

Anger was on display at the Unison union’s 200-strong higher education conference earlier this month.

Five branches had submitted emergency motions on the pensions fight—but delegates were told they wouldn’t be discussed.

The standing orders committee, which oversees the running of conference, ruled them all out of order.

It complained that the motions spoke of the “heads of agreement” deal when negotiators had only signed up to “principles of negotiation”.

But delegates could produce official newsletters that used the phrase “heads of agreement”. Only one person voted to accept the committee’s report.

In the end delegates voted to suspend standing orders—putting aside conference rules so they could discuss pensions.

This meant they could not force a vote for more action. But the vast majority made it clear they wanted a fightback—and would have voted to organise more strikes if they could.

Speaker after speaker derided the deal. Some berated the leadership for not showing any willingness to fight despite the determination of members.

Unison activists should organise as much solidarity as they can for 28 March. That will show Unison’s leaders that we’re up for a fight.

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