A rank and file initiative over local government pensions has proved a startling success.
The ability to mobilise support from branches representing hundreds of thousands of Unison members reflects the deep concerns many people have over the government’s attacks and the union’s response.
The initiative was taken by Kirklees branch to convene a special conference to discuss the Local Government Pension Scheme dispute. It has been a massive success.
The Unison rules state that branches representing 25 percent of the membership must pass the same motion within a period of two months for a conference to be called.
With two weeks remaining, 70 branches representing 245,000 members (around 30 percent of the total) have informed our branch that they have passed the motion.
This should mean that a conference will go ahead.
However the national union officials - who have yet to acknowledge our motion sent on 8 September and two subsequent letters - has now written to all branches they know have passed the motion asking what meeting passed it and whether it was quorate.
This has outraged many branches as they say they have never been approached in the same way regarding conference delegates.
It is seen as yet another delaying tactic by the leadership to deny any debate within the union as to what needs to be done to defend our pensions.
The union has also stated that it has to give 16 weeks notice of a meeting and, as this would be too late to affect the dispute, then it is all pointless.
However my branch believes that the rules allow the services group executive to announce its own notice for the meeting and we are campaigning for them to do it at their meeting on 21 November.
Meanwhile my branch welcomes Unison’s call for a mass lobby of parliament on Wednesday 22 November and has booked two coaches already.
We hope every branch will build this lobby as big as possible so that it can increase the pressure on the government and be a springboard for further action.