On Wednesday morning we had a long and thorough debate on the NHS and speeches warning of the dangers posed by privatisation of the probation service.
There was a discussion on a motion about attendance management submitted by The National Disabled Members Committee. Many disabled members across the country are discriminated against by attendance management procedures which don’t take into account their disabilities.
We are rightly proud of having negotiated disability related special leave as part of the Council attendance management procedures, but we need to remember that not all of our members nationally have this facility. Too many employers just simply don’t want to accommodate disabled workers.
The afternoon opened on a debate on organising in fragmented workforces. This is a serious issue for our branch. We are not simply a local government branch and have members working for 350 different employers. In some cases, such as our Manchester College members working in prisons, this can be in workplaces outside the city.
We work hard to give equal representation to members wherever they work, but know it is not as easy for some branches. Facing the challenges we have as a union we welcome more support for branches. We voted in favour of the motion, but we share the concerns expressed by some speakers that any changes must be branch led and must protect the democratic principles we cherish.
The rest of the afternoon grouped together several issues related to women with motions on women and austerity and housing issues for women.
Branch officer and our NEC rep Rena Wood spoke in the debate saying that a “civilised society was judged by how it treated its citizens”.
Discussing class politics and collectivism Rena said: “I am a working class woman… And we have a proud history of resistance sisters.” She also told conference “we need to remind people what collectivism means”. “It’s absolutely vital that we increase the membership within our branches and within the union”.
Earlier in the week there was some concern about the use of the term BME at conference. Following a meeting of the Black Caucus attended by Branch Equality Officer Sonia Stewart, the national Black Members Committee issued some guidance on why we use the term Black in their news sheet.
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