This morning Unite members at Mears & Manchester Working Limited, who carry out housing maintenance for Northwards Housing, went back to work (for now). They have struck 4 days per week for the last 12 weeks, after a previous 12-week period of strikes last year. The dispute isn’t over yet, but “as for now – we’re winning”.
Members voted last week to return to work today after an offer which for most people means a 10% immediate pay rise, with a further 5% spread over two years. This is a testament to the sustained strike action, and to campaigning activity which has included protests at housing offices, leafleting tenants, and pressuring Manchester City Council, who stand behind this outsourced service.
The remaining sticking point involves four workers (RLOs) where the employer has not budged. The four include Bill Nugent, the senior steward, which nobody sees as a coincidence. In an impressive display of unity, the workers voted last week that they will be out again next week unless the employers and the council resolve this outstanding issue this week. An injury to one is an injury to all.
This video shows Unite rep Billy Sinclair explaining the situation, and many of the workers marching in to work together this morning.
Unite will be holding its next Policy Conference in Brighton 2-6 July 2018. This is the opportunity for every member to shape our union’s policy. The process is already under way, with branches and committees sending in motions for the conference agenda. If you want to get a motion onto the agenda, you need to act now. Motions have to be agreed by a branch or committee and sent in to Unite HQ no later than 9 February 2018.
Step one is to draft your motion. There are full guidelines here. If you’ve never done it before, don’t be put off, but do ask for help if you need it.
Each branch and each constitutional committee (i.e. Regional & National Industrial Sector Committee; Regional & National Equality Committee, Regional Committee, Area Activist Committee) can submit one motion on any general policy topic (i.e. not about a particular sector and not requiring a change to Unite’s rules). The National Retired Members’ Committee and each Regional Retired Members’ Co-ordinating Committees can also submit one motion each, but these can only be on about matters solely pertaining to members in retirement.
The meetings held round the country before Unite Rank & File launched came up with lots of ideas, including areas where we can campaign to improve union policy. Note that there’s no need to submit motions to restate existing policy – motions should change existing policy or add to it.
Here are some suggestions to get you thinking – feel free to comment with your own ideas or what you’ve already submitted:
Organising / industrial action:
Disputes unit support, focused on winning, not just legal compliance, for all disputes from an early stage
Improve support for company and sub-sector combines
Increasing lay member involvement in organising
Response to the Trade Union Act 2016
Review / overhaul Unite education in the light of government funding cuts
Facility for levies (e.g. for strike funds) by workplace / employer, not just branch – for many members branch doesn’t directly match employer / workplace
Recruitment and organising of migrant workers and refugees
Democracy / accountability:
Review of Unite structures to better support members in multi-region employers
Investigate the role of union officials in blacklisting, and support the Blacklist Support Group
Policy against officers approaching employers over the heads of reps / branch officers
Tackle non-functioning branches so members aren’t left without a functioning branch for long periods
Improve Unite grievance and complaint procedures
Change General Secretary elections to Single Transferable Vote
Ban branches passing member data to campaigns or third parties during Unite elections
Ban Unite employees (other than candidates) from campaigning in Unite elections
Official videoed hustings for Unite elections
Limit the General Secretary’s wage
Facilitation and control of communication with members during union elections
Require disclosure / control over fundraising and expenditure during union elections
Put equality on the agenda of all branch and constitutional committee meetings
Make regional women’s and equality officer roles full time (or job share)
Review equality structures to ensure they are effective in representing each equality group, championing its issues, and promoting participation
Extend the recommendations from the report on women officers in Unite to all employees
Improve equality training for lay and full-time officers, reps and members
Including impact on members without UK citizenship and members working overseas in materials about impact of Brexit on workers’ rights
Workers’ rights to live and work where they want
Trans rights and Gender Recognition
Cuts and privatisation
Councils implementing cuts
Diversification from destructive projects to good, socially useful, jobs
This week Unite members will be meeting in Brighton for our 2017 sector conferences. Unite Rank and File has produced a leaflet explaining what we are and encouraging solidarity with various disputes. If you can, please lend a hand distributing it to delegates and encourage them to sign up for Unite Rank and File.