Magazine – Trade Unions
Monday, 10 September 2012 19:47
Marsha Jane Thompson reports from TUC
The only contribution to the debate at the UNISON delegation meeting about whether or not to support the POA’s Motion 5 (on the practicalities of a General Strike) was from General Secretary, Dave Prentis.
He explained that the basis for the recent abstention of UNISON members at the General Council had been that the Policy Committee had deferred a decision on a recommendation, but that UNISON had expressed reservations that a controversy around Motion 5 might distract attention from the (more important) Composite 1 (which focuses on co-ordinated strike action).
He referred to the wording of the motion and explained that UNISON had previously taken advice on the practicality of TUC coordination of industrial action and had concluded it was impractical. Nevertheless there was nothing in the wording of the motion itself to oppose.
Given that the General Council had split evenly once UNISON had abstained, and that unions including CWU, UNITE and PCS had supported the POA, it was now important not to have a split on the floor of Congress and a massive battle between unions.
Therefore, telling the delegation that the whole General Council awaited its decision, Dave recommended support for Motion 5, telling the meeting that “no one could leave this room and say that UNISON is supporting a General Strike.” This recommendation was nodded through.
Those who wondered at the unexpected announcement from Paul Kenny, a few minutes before the UNISON meeting, that the GMB were supporting the POA on Motion 5 might now wonder whether Dave had shared his recommendation with his fellow General Secretary.