Local Government Conference 2006
Centre stage for BobÖ.
Highlights for the Branch of the Local Government
Conference, was the central role played by Branch Secretary Bob
Revie, as Scottish Regional Delegate. Bobís fellow delegate, Eleanor
Haggett of Fife Branch was unable to attend due to ill-health. As
a result, Bob held the fort single handedly and was up speaking
on no fewer than 3 occasions over the course of the two days.
were high on the Conference agenda and Scotlandís motion on the
particular implications for women of the Rule of 85 won overwhelming
support. "Women need to be given full and proper protection
within the Local Government Pension Scheme. Life events such as
childbirth, marriage, divorce and widowhood often have particular
and significant pension implications for women, and these need to
be taken fully into account," said Bob, in proposing the motion.
Once again the conference was very England and Wales focussed,
and under a new rule. Scottish delegates were banned from voting
on issues which were not relevant to Scotland. A number of amendments
from Scotland and Scottish branches were designed to give a Scottish
dimension, particularly where Scotland leads the field such as in
nursery nurses pay, or where the problems are shared.
For example, Bob presented an amendment to a motion on nursery
nurse pay, calling on conference to recognise the pay increases
achieved by the action in Scotland, the Early Yearís Review and
the research evidence on the role of nursery nurses in Scotland,
which UNISON commissioned.
And he told conference of the threats to Scottish jobs from the
efficiency reviews which the Scottish Executive is undertaking,
which mirror the worries in England and Wales.
Probably the key debate of conference was on pensions. There were
two opposing motions and these can be summarised as, "letís
have a strategic campaign, to include industrial action if the current
negotiations and the judicial review are unsuccessful," and
"letís have a ballot for industrial action now." After
impassioned debates from both sides it went to a card vote and the
call for an immediate ballot was lost. Your branch delegation voted
for the first option, and this position was confirmed as correct
for the branch by the recent pensions consultation.
For my money, the funniest contribution of the week came from Pat
Morgan of Cymru Wales on a debate about ill-health assessments.
He described how his Councilís occupational health service never
recommended ill-health retirement. "Even an application from
a Mr E Pressley of Nashville, Tenesee was greeted with a suspicious
mind and the letter returned to sender," he said to laughter
and applause. However, the issue is a serious one, and the motion
calling for better more specialist assessment and a proper appeals
process was carried.