In the morning there were a number of workshops and taster training sessions arranged on:- introductions for new delegates; TUPE & transfers; campaigning & public speaking; how to recruit a member; violence at work and negotiating & leadership.
As a branch secretary I spent the first part of the morning taken up with last minute change of branch delegates authorisation and working out how to confirm to the necessary proportionality requirements.
I then chaired the workshop on recruitment and was impressed how serious and thoughtful delegates were about this key and fundamental role.
During lunch we went to the Manchester bedroom tax rally (see report here). Then after lunch the Community seminar session ended and the actual Community Conference started. This was chaired by UNISON President Chris Tansley.
There was about 21 motions to discuss and debate on various issues and concerns facing our members in Community. My branch delegation spoke on a number of motions including our composited motion on a "Living Wage plus" and "Save our Pensions". I also spoke on the pensions issue on behalf of the SGE.
Out of these 20 odd motions there was really only one motion regarding the big Community specific branches meeting up to discuss their issues at the expense of all other branches that caused any sort of a stir.
It does make you think what is the point of having a motion based conference that consists of moving, seconding and debating, motion after motion that nobody opposes? I think we need to think again about what we do at conference since I suspect most delegates did not think this was a good use of time and resources.Especially since we completed all of conference business on the Saturday afternoon when we had Sunday morning timetabled for it as well!
We had a social and raffle in the evening. This raised money for the Presidents project "Hope Not Hate". Where I won tickets to a County cricket match, which of course being North Wallian I gave away (to my branch chair who despite being Irish is a cricket fanatic) and a UNISON Community bottle opener and stopper! We then went to China Town for a London region meal and one or three beers.
The next morning I went for a run (aka slow jog) around the nearby canals and much to my surprise came across a recreated Manchester Roman fort gatehouse!
This is the 3rd UNISON Community seminar and conference and while it is not all perfect, I really think we are going from strength to strength. We do have a long journey ahead but I am confident we will achieve it.
(Centre picture of Community NEC member, Isobel (Izzy) McVicar speaking about health and safety in our sector UPDATE: See UNISON press release on safety issue in our sector and UNISONactive take on conference).