NEC issues recruiting challenge
(20/02/13) "We recruit best where we've got issues and we recruit best where we've got branch organisation," general secretary Dave Prentis told UNISON's national executive council in London today.
The NEC was discussing the launch of the union's spring recruitment campaign in less than a month.
A major advertising campaign will kick off on 11 March backed by new material, alongside campaigning and organising work, aimed specifically at the concerns of non-members in areas where the union has the organisational strength to support new members.
Recognising the pressures that branches and activists across the union face, the NEC stressed that building density in our workplaces through a major recruitment campaign, and the organising work that goes alongside it, is the key to tackling those issues.
We need to be strong to defend our members and the services they provide. And, said Mr Prentis: "The only way this union can keep strong is by recruiting."
The alternative is to be a declining union as job cuts take their toll on our members. The executive issued a simple challenge to the wider union: from the start of the advertising campaign on 11 March "everybody has to be doing something".
Members discussed the union's response to the Francis report into deaths at the Mid Staffs NHS trust, noting the danger posed by unsafe staffing levels, financial pressures and a management focus on these over patient care, along with a culture which ignored staff warnings.
The meeting repeated the warning in UNISON's initial response to the report (see press release) that staff cuts - including the loss of 7,000 nursing jobs already - and a slashed budget to achieve £20bn "efficiency savings" mean the government is "in the process of recreating across the whole NHS the dangerous financial pressures which surrounded Mid Staffs".
UNISON is talking to other health unions on a joint union response and arranging training for stewards so they can advise members on their rights as whistleblowers.
The NEC agreed a message of support to 400 members at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust taking industrial action against pay cuts, and to London Metropolitan University branch activists Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh, who have been suspended by their employer.
Turning to this summer's national delegate conference, the NEC also agreed motions to submit, covering:
- an alternative to austerity;
- challenging inequality and the squeeze on living standards;
- public services;
- outsourcing and privatisation;
- fighting welfare and benefit cuts;
- campaigning for fair and progressive taxation;
- resisting the pay cap;
- fighting for employment rights;
- promoting learning as a recruitment and organising tool;
- review into the resourcing of branches 2011 to 2013;
- human rights and trade union rights in Burma.
In other business, the executive agreed an approach UNISON will take within the TUC, received an update on pay, including equal pay, and negotiations across the union's main organising areas and agreed the union's management accounts for 2012.