This is our truth, tell us yours
@CathElliott tweeted today that UNISON conference had voted down motions on violence against women. Cath tweeted Disappointing & somewhat scary to hear reports of men in the hall cheering when the violence against women motions were voted down.
She also blogged about it here. Now Cath, who describes herself as a freelance writer and blogger, was at the conference; I, being someone in paid employment, was at work. I didn’t realise unions like UNISON, a union which represents mainly low paid public servants, signed up freelance writers and bloggers as members, but hey, that’s UNISON’s problem I suppose.Quite who they negotiate with on behalf of freelance writers is anyone’s guess really – Cath Elliott sometimes writes for the Guardian, and one can only wonder if the NUJ decided not to admit her for some reason – but this is a somewhat peripheral point.
Here’s Jon Rogers take on what happened at UNISON conference.
Ignoring the Trotskyite spin on Jon Rogers remarks (although the LRC are somewhat watered down Trots) the reality is that UNISON conference didn’t actually get to vote on the motions that Cath Elliott and her friends authored.
What the conference was being asked to vote on was the report by the Standing Orders Committee; they were, to believe Rogers, considering the issue for the second or third time.
Sectarians, propagandists and their ilk like to play games at the expense of the Standing Orders Comittee at lots of conferences, not just UNISON’s. All too often, the reality is that the SOC won’t be able to publish the advice it is depending upon, even though they may have discussed it with the authors of an excluded motion – so a ritual dance takes place where both sides know what was said back stage, but the the movers of the excluded motion object to the fact that they can’t be told in public why their motion is excluded, or affect to not understand the position taken by the SOC.
Meanwhile, on the floor of the conference, delegates who love the organization they give their time up to, and who often know the members of the SOC personally, think long and hard about what legal jeopardy means, and think about what it would mean to their members if the receivers were called in, as happened to unions in the 80s when they fell into contempt of court.
Cath Eliott’s blog makes clear that she knows a lot about how UNISON works, and went away from last year’s UNISON conference determined to come back and fight for her position again. So when she says
Bizarrely, the exact same wording was deemed acceptable and legal when the motions were submitted to, and passed at, all of our other conferences. The wording was also accepted onto last year’s National Conference agenda when it was included in the text of our lost amendment (8.1). Pointing that all out to the Standing Orders Committee though, has so far got us absolutely nowhere.
you have to wonder if she’s deliberately ignoring the difference between those conferences of UNISON self-organized groups and its National Delegate Conference. The difference, so far as I can tell from UNISON’s slightly bizarre rule book, is that only NDC can make policy for the whole union; the conferences of SOG’s are not binding on the union, and therefore their resolutions would not put the union in legal jeopardy in the same way as a resolution of the NDC.
Now, if Cath Elliott is telling us that she genuinely doesn’t know that vital difference, do I believe her?
Of course I do. No sane person would deliberately frame a motion so that it would be excluded by the SOC, provoking a row about misogyny and the institutions of their union would they?
Of course not, we must believe that after a year’s planning and scheming, Cath Elliott overlooked the vital difference between a National Delegate Conference and a conference of a self organized group. I suspect that wouldn’t make much of a headline though.