Thursday, June 19, 2014

Composite A - Organising in fragmented workforces #uUNDC14

The shy and retiring, Doreen Davies, speaking yesterday on this important motion to the Community Service Group and the future of the union.

"President, Conference, Doreen Davies, Greater London Housing Association branch speaking in favour of Composite A.

Conference, my branch is a community service group specific branch which organises in over 130 different employers in the Housing and voluntary sector in London and the South East delivering public services from over a thousand different workplaces.

We also have to organise in employers who have staff who work 5 different UNISON regions and are members of a number of different branches apart from ours.

Not only are our members fragmented physically and geographically their pay and conditions are frankly a dog’s dinner. We have members who are on former local government, health, private, spot rates, Hay, profit sharing, minimum wage, living wage, permanent contracts, agency contracts, zero hour contracts, shifts work.

Imagine how difficult it is to draw up pay claims and defend members against proposed restructures when you have so many different branches to consult. Remembering that many traditional sole employer branches are fully committed to trying to protect their core membership and have little or no spare resources or facility time to respond.

Conference, we must ensure that our structures are fit for purpose. The reason for our existence as a trade union is to organise and bargain on behalf of our members who deliver public services. While I agree that we must continue to fight for us to be employed directly by democratically elected public bodies we must wake up and smell the coffee and make sure that we can deliver for our members in the here and now.

This fragmentation is not only just a problem for our union it is an organising opportunity. At a time when our membership numbers and income is under threat as never before we must look long and hard at our structures and indeed target employers which are large enough to support networks of stewards to self organise and defend members.

Conference, let us indeed have a national and regional plan. Let us have a collective solution to help tackle a private sector nightmare. Conference, please support this composite". 
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