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EXECUTIVE COUNCIL REPORT

3-6 March 2014

UNITE the Union, Theobalds Road, London

Report by Martin Mayer Executive Council member for Passenger Transport

• UNITE and the Labour Party – after Collins Review, our influence continues

• Executive Council agrees to UNITE’s affiliation to Labour from 1M to 500,000

• Grangemouth – Ineos sacks Mark Lyon and we fight on • NHS leverage strategy takes shape

TTIP US/Europe free trade agreement – UNITE takes a stand

• UNITE takes new steps to promote equalities in officer appointments

• Ricardo Alencon addresses UNITE Executive Council on behalf of Cuban Government

Political Report

Collins Review

The period was dominated by the Collins Review and the proposals to change the relationship between the Labour Party and the Trade Unions. A special Labour Party NEC on 4th February agreed to recommend the proposals with 2 votes against (Dennis Skinner and Christine Shawcroft) and one abstention (Martin Mayer). Under the proposals Trade Unions will no longer affiliate to the Party on the basis of a block affiliation as at present, but only on the basis of the number of members who positively agree to the union paying a £3 levy to the Party on their behalf. It can safely be assumed that the new level of affiliation will be considerably lower than at present such is the level is disaffection trade unionists feel towards the Labour Party.

UNITE Special Executive Council 13th February

Considerable debate took place within UNITE culminating in a special Executive Council on 13th February to decide UNITE’s response. Len McCluskey put up a forceful argument to the special Executive Council as to why we should vote for the proposals at the special Labour Party Conference on 1st March. Although this is not where we want to be, we have negotiated an acceptable compromise. The Trade Union’s collective affiliation to the Labour Party remains intact i.e. 50% of Conference and guaranteed proportion of seats on the NEC and NPF etc at least until 2019 when the five year transition period ends. In the meantime we will proactively campaign with our membership to maximise the number who will sign up to allow the union to pay the Labour Party £3 affiliation fee on their behalf. There is no reason to believe we could not achieve 250,000+ members signing up. If there is a move to reduce the unions’ collective strength at a Labour Conference in 2019 or afterwards, it would need the vote of the trade unions to do so – and we wouldn’t, would we? In fact we could count on at least some support from CLPs. If the unions successfully sign up several hundred thousand individual levy payers, and top up the Labour Party coffers with additional donations as needed, there becomes very little logical argument to justify any review of the Trade Unions’ collective strength in the Party. It was a robust debate with council members expressing strong opinions on both sides of the argument, but it was agreed by majority vote to support the General Secretary’s recommendation. UNITE’s Political Strategy remains intact and we will continue to fight within the Party to maximise our influence and get UNITE members selected as candidates.

Special Labour Party Conference 1st March

Nearly all the trade unions voted in favour of the proposals (except BAFWU) and approximately 80% of the CLP delegates. Ed Milliband expressed the view that many more working class trade unionists would become active within the Labour Party as affiliated supporters, breathing more life into the Party and making it more relevant. Len McCluskey made a very strong intervention, reminding conference of the shocking treatment UNITE received over Falkirk and the heavy price paid by UNITE convenor Stevie Deans who lost his job as a result. He slammed the Party for calling in the police and said if this was all a secret agenda to get the unions out of the Labour Party then it wouldn’t work – UNITE is staying to fight on!

UNITE reduces its affiliation from one million to 500,000

Len McCluskey argued it was no longer justifiable to affiliate to the Labour Party on the basis of 1M members (our paying membership is almost 1.2M and our total membership is 1.5M). In-house surveys proved that barely one half of UNITE members voted Labour at the last election (most of the others did not vote at all). He also assured Council UNITE would not leave the Labour Party in the lurch – some or all of the money saved could be given back in additional donations. But we can control that and would perhaps have more influence on policy as a result. It was agreed that additional donations will only be made if approved by the Executive Council or the F&GP.

Other items in the Political Report

UNITE is preparing good materials for the European elections. We view the Labour MEPs as a very supportive and proactive group who deserve our support. We need to combat UKIP who expect to do well on the issue of immigration but have nothing to offer working people on the real issues. In Scotland the UNITE Region is taking a neutral stand on the independence referendum, reflecting no strong majority either for or against among our membership. In the Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly has made a difference; protecting the Agricultural Wages Board and assisting REMPLOY workers obtain alternative employment.

UNITE and Ineos at loggerheads as Mark Lyon UNITE convenor is sacked

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos subsidiary at Grangemouth continues its vendetta against UNITE by sacking Mark Lyon in his absence for failing to do enough to stop UNITE putting out press statements attacking the company. This follows the sacking of Stevie Deans the other UNITE convenor last year for his alleged role in Falkirk Labour Party. Since the return to work in October 2013 on the company’s terms, Ineos has done everything it can to destroy UNITE’s organisation i.e. stopping check off, refusing to recognise UNITE shop stewards, withdrawal of all facility time etc. The overwhelming majority of members have switched to Direct Debit. UNITE is pursuing a legal battle with Ineos over their abuse of date protection laws when they leaked Stevie Dean’s emails to the media. Meanwhile Ineos has been forced to withdraw its legal action against UNITE for defamation and pay all UNITE’s £100,000 legal costs. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee is examining evidence around the whole Grangemouth debacle.

TTIP – US and EU Free Trade Agreement

Council received an in-depth briefing on proposals for an EU/US Free Trade Agreement, dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The agreement will not focus on tariffs as they are at an historic low, but more on non-tariff barriers e.g. common environmental standards for cars built on both sides of the Atlantic and mutual recognition of professional qualifications but also deregulation and abolition of “red tape” etc. TTIP is being widely touted as beneficial to workers and employers alike, boosting trade between the USA and Europe and raising living standards etc. Indeed the EU Commission is publicly claiming TTIP will create 2.2M new jobs and make every family of four 545 Euros better off per year, based on a study by Centre for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR which is two thirds funded by banks and financial institutions).

The AFL-CIO is warning against such rosy predictions. Similar claims were made about the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was supposed to create 200,000 new US jobs. In fact there was a net loss of 680,000 jobs as removal of barriers to trade allowed US manufacturers to relocate to cheap-labour Mexico.

In reality TTIP is a neo-liberal pro-business project to liberalise world trade with many sinister aspects. The talks are proceeding in secrecy. Trade Unions are calling for minimum trade union standards and workers rights but there is little sign of any inclusion of this. Instead deregulation appears to be the order of the day i.e. the removal so-called barriers to trade which in neo-liberal speak often includes labour protections and environmental regulations. USA has only ratified 14 of the 190 ILO Conventions and has not ratified the most important of these Conventions 87 and 98 (the right to be in a trade union and the right to collectively bargain). 24 out of 50 US sates are “right to work” states where there is no right to organise, the law all but prohibits a collective agreements between the company and the union and legal strikes are almost an impossibility. US Republicans are demanding assurances that any EU-type regulations (like EWC) be ruled out in advance whilst US unions are seeking EU-type standards of labour protection for US workers.

The most sinister proposal is to set up Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISTS). This would in effect be secret tribunals at which global multinationals could take members state governments to court if their regulatory framework is seen as a barrier to trade. This could include US health companies suing a future Labour Government if it reversed the privatisation of our NHS and refused to allow any further contracting out. Unless specifically exempted there would be nothing to stop global multinationals taking cases to ISTS tribunals demanding compensation for being unfairly denied access to “closed markets” in health or any other public service. In case this sounds far-fetched, just look at the following actual cases being pursued:

Veolia is trying to take the Egyptian Government to an ISTS tribunal for raising the minimum wage • The Slovak Republic was fined $22M after it reversed the liberalisation of its health insurance scheme • US tobacco corporations are taking Australia to court for introducing plain cigarette packaging

Council agreed UNITE’s position is to oppose TTIP unless the following conditions are met:

1. Verifiable proof that TTIP will bring benefits to workers e.g. more jobs, higher wages

2. No ISDS in any treaty – this is an affront to democracy itself

3. Total exclusion of all public services from any liberalisation requirements

4. Binding labour rights which raise rather than lower protections for trade unions and workers

International Report

Simon Dubbins International Director reported on the increased tension over Ukraine and Crimea. A UNITE statement is to be released condemning the West’s hypocrisy towards Russia over its intervention in Crimea and calling for tempers to cool and talks to resolve the crisis.

The euro zone appears to be more stable but austerity is still in full flow and UNITE will support the ETUC demonstration against austerity policies on 4th April.

Whilst EU Commission pursues its neo-liberal agenda to privatise European rail systems using the failed UK model, we nevertheless secured one victory as the 4th Railway Package had its first reading. Thanks to an effective linkup between UNITE Passenger Transport executive members Martin Mayer and James Mitchell, ETF Deputy General Secretary Sabine Trier and Labour MEPs Glenys Willmott and Brian Simpson, a proposal to introduce “minimum service requirements” during public transport strikes was thrown out.

Gail Cartmel AGS visited Qatar as part of a trade union delegation investigating labour and trade union abuses in the light of plans to hold the World Cup there. The extraordinary high deaths of construction workers are of great concern.

Simon Dubbins’ report also included the following:

• Venezuela where orchestrated right wing violence is intended to destabilise the regime • Colombia. Jimmy Kelly joined a delegation to Washington to protest the detention of Hugo Ballesteros • Guatemala where serious repression of trade unionists continues • Palestine. A second UNITE delegation visited in January and a further PSC delegation is scheduled. A national PSC conference takes place in London on 5th April • Del Singh a much-loved figure in Labour Friends of Palestine and Middle East was killed in a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan

Ricardo Alencon, President of Cuban National Assembly

We were deeply honoured to have Ricardo Alencon address the UNITE Executive Council. He expressed his profound gratitude to UNITE for our solidarity and support especially on the Miami 5 campaign. Two of the five are now back in Cuba but there is still little sign of the US Government releasing the final 3. Commenting on Cuba’s own path of revolution, Ricardo said this was founded on the principles of equality and solidarity. The society we create has to be our own heroic creation, he said.

UNITE Officers and staff

The General Secretary reported that he is reviewing the National Officer contingent where he believes there is a surplus of possibly 4 people once workload are fairly reallocated.

The following officers’ appointments made by EC Panels in the lead up to the March 2014 EC meeting were endorsed:

• Regional Coordinating Officer (South East) – (x1 role) - Janet Henney • Regional Coordinating Officer (Ireland) – (x1 role) - Richie Brown • Regional Coordinating Officer (Scotland) - (x1 role) - Billy Parker • Regional Officer (South East) – (x2 roles) - Colin Terry and Steve Rowlett • Regional Officer (Wales) – (x2 roles) - Sara Davies (second role to be re-advertised) • Regional Education Officer (East & West Midlands) – (x1 role) - Keith Cockcroft • Regional Education Officer (NEYH) – (x1 role) - Andy Pearson

As part of a paper on recruitment and selection of fulltime officials considered by the council it was agreed that for all future appointments the roles would be advertised amongst the membership across the union rather than restricting it to the specific region where the vacancy exists. This was one aspect of the strategy to enhance recruitment of BAEM members. Discussion also took place about increasing the number of women fulltime officials recruited. As part of the overall strategy it was agreed that the recruitment and selection training provided for all Executive Council members would be examined, looking at enhancing the equalities element of the training and the possibility of providing accreditation on completion of the course.

A list of officers who had notified that they intended to retire and those who had made application for voluntary severance was provided to the council.

The General Secretary is reviewing the provision of research support for UNITE’s industrial sectors. Not only do we employ our own researchers, we also affiliate to six research organisations. He said he believed there is duplication and savings of up to £1M could be made. How the staff are managed is a matter for the General Secretary but whatever the changes he committed himself to say “I will not reduce the service to our NISCs”.

Promoting Equalities in recruitment of Officers and Staff

Council agreed to series of measures to redress the appalling lack of BAEM officers.

Measures include.

• A full equality audit of all UNITE employees • UNITE to seek guidance from Equality and Human Rights Commission • Consult with all BAEM committees on their views and suggestions • Assist BAEM activists who aspire to become officers to prepare themselves for the role • All vacancies to be advertised nationally • An external consultant to be appointed

Council also considered a proposal to set up an Assessment Centre model to assist potential full-time officers prepare for the role and help them to prepare for interview before an executive appointment panel. The idea is to have a more structured approach to identifying and selecting stand-down officers which could also be used to positively identify women and BAEM candidates.

Under the proposal, members with potential would be nominated by the Regional Secretary, Exec members and senior activists. These candidates would then be invited to attend a UNITE Assessment Centre where they would be invited to take part in case studies, group activities, role play and exercise etc. Those who demonstrate capability would be included in a pool of potential stand-down officers and guaranteed an interview for a full-time officer position. It was agreed that this proposal was worthy of consideration and feedback from regions and sectors is invited.

Unite Finance Report – Preliminary 2013 Results

The preliminary financial results for Unite in 2013 are on track with the three year financial plan and showing an improvement compared with last year. They are summarised in the table below:

 

1st 
Quarter 2013

2nd Quarter 2013

3rd
Quarter 2013

4th
Quarter
2013

2013

Better/ (worse) than 2012

 

£m

£m

£m

£m

£m

£m

Total Income

40.9

39.9

41.7

39.5

162.0

2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expenditure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employer Disputes

(0.5)

(0.4)

(0.5)

(0.7)

(2.1)

1.8

Other Membership Benefits excl Legal

(1.8)

(1.6)

(2.0)

(1.9)

(7.3)

(0.4)

Members Legal Representation

(0.9)

(0.6)

(0.6)

(1.5)

(3.6)

(0.4)

Membership Activity

(1.4)

(3.1)

(2.5)

(2.6)

(9.6)

(0.7)

Payments to Regions & Branches

(3.2)

(3.2)

(3.1)

(2.6)

(12.1)

0.5

Political Affiliations & Grants

(0.9)

(0.9)

(0.9)

(0.8)

(3.5)

0.1

Other Affiliations, Grants & Donations

(1.8)

(1.4)

(1.8)

(2.0)

(7.0)

(0.5)

National Organising

(1.2)

(1.4)

(1.6)

(1.7)

(5.9)

-

Employment Costs excl Organising

(14.5)

(14.1)

(14.4)

(13.9)

(56.9)

0.6

Motor Vehicle Costs

(1.1)

(0.4)

(1.2)

(0.4)

(3.1)

0.5

Property Costs

(2.5)

(3.1)

(2.7)

(3.5)

(11.8)

(1.4)

IT Costs

(0.6)

(0.5)

(0.6)

(0.6)

(2.3)

1.4

Other Administration

(2.1)

(2.0)

(3.4)

(3.2)

(10.7)

(1.9)

Irrecoverable VAT

(1.0)

(1.5)

(1.4)

(1.4)

(5.3)

(1.5)

Total Recurring Expenditure

(33.5)

(34.2)

(36.7)

(36.8)

(141.2)

(1.9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surplus / (Deficit) before Investment Income and Non Recurring Items

7.4

5.7

5.0

2.7

20.8

0.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investment Income

0.4

0.4

0.8

1.1

2.7

0.6

Non-Recurring Items (excluding Pension Deficit Reduction)

(2.2)

(1.6)

(2.2)

(2.8)

(8.8)

2.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surplus/(Deficit) (excluding Pension Deficit Reduction)

5.6

4.5

3.6

1.0

14.7

3.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pension Deficit Reduction Contributions

(3.0)

(3.0)

(3.0)

(3.1)

(12.1)

(2.0)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surplus/(Deficit)

2.6

1.5

0.6

(2.1)

2.6

1.4

The Union is currently in the “calm” between two financial storms: we have weathered the pension deficit storm where the £12.1 million annual pension deficit reduction contributions can be met out of operating income. The second storm – the loss of legal income –is about to hit as a result of the already implemented Jackson legislation. In 2013, Legal Income was been at an “all time” high of £11.3 million. Unite would be in deficit without this income, so we need to keep our overall spending in check as well as find further savings. The Union will cease to earn this income on cases that are initiated after 1st April 2013. Given the size of the Union’s Legal Income, this obviously represents a major area of concern for the future.

Total Income amounted to £162.0 million in 2013 – an improvement of £2.0 million versus 2012. A breakdown is as follows:

£m Contribution Income 146.8 Driver Care 3.2 Legal Income 11.3 Affinity/sundry Income 0.7 Total Income 162.0

Contribution Income (excluding Driver Care) increased by £1.3 million or by slightly less than 1% versus 2012. As member subscription rates were increased by about 4%, this implies that paying membership fell by around 3%. Legal Income accounted for the rest of the improvement as Unite continued to benefit from the charges that we make on employers (or their insurers) in personal injury cases.

Total Recurring Expenditure totalled £141.2 million in 2013 –an increase in expenditure of £1.9 million versus last year. The elections for the General Secretary and the special Executive Council elections resulted in at least £2 million of additional expenditure versus 2012. These costs show up in Membership Activity and Other Administration. The cost of Employer Disputes fell by £1.8 million in 2013 to £2.1 million. Other Membership Benefits excluding Legal rose by £0.4 million reflecting a continued rise in Education spending. Employment Costs excluding Organising fell by £0.6 million. As salaries were frozen for the year, this means that the Union had slightly fewer employees compared with 2012. Spending on Other Affiliations, Grants & Donations rose by £0.5 million.

Property Costs increased by £1.4 million compared with 2012 due to the incidence of a significant amount of non-capital refurbishment spending – Salford, 4th and 6th floor Holborn, etc. IT Costs continued to be well controlled -- falling by £1.4 million. These are down by about two-thirds since the immediate post-merger period.

As a consequence, Unite recorded a surplus before Investment Income and Non-Recurring Items of £20.8 million on a preliminary basis in 2013 – an improvement of £0.1 million versus 2012. Investment Income amounted to £2.7 million in 2013, up £0.6 million versus a year ago. Non-Recurring Items excluding Pension Deficit Reduction Contributions amounted to £8.8 million on a preliminary basis in 2013 – £2.7 million better compared with last year. Included within the Non-Recurring items were £6.3 million of employee severance, and £2.4 million of VAT write-offs on property refurbishment.

Unite achieved a surplus prior to Pension Deficit Reduction Contributions of £14.7 million in 2013 – a result which was £3.4 million better than last year. Pension Deficit Reduction Contributions totalled £12.1 million in 2013 -- £2.0 million more than 2012. Under the Deficit Recovery Plans agreed with the two sets of Trustees, these contributions will remain at £12.1 million through to 2024.

Taking everything into account, Unite posted an overall surplus of £2.6 million on a preliminary basis in 2013 – a result which was £1.4 million better than last year. The result means that the Union remains on track with its three year financial plan.

Liquid Assets

The liquid assets of Unite as at 31 December 2013 in comparison with earlier periods are summarised in the table below:

 

31 Dec ‘13

30 Sep ‘13

30 June ‘13

31 Mar ‘13

31 Dec ‘12

31 Dec ‘11

31 Dec ‘10

Cash and Equivalents

29.9

26.8

32.3

32.2

31.8

22.7

5.0

Marketable Securities (@ market value)

62.4

58.2

56.4

56.5

50.8

45.0

56.7

Total Unite

92.3

85.0

88.7

88.7

82.6

67.7

61.7

Unite’s liquid assets of £92.3 million as at 31st December 2013 were up by nearly £10 million versus year-end 2012. This was the result of a combination of (1) the positive operating results of the Union during the year; (2) an £11.6 million increase in the value of the Union’s marketable securities as stock markets improved; (3) offset by capital spending on property purchase and refurbishment (Edinburgh, Slough, Hilsea, Dublin and Moreland Street, most significantly). Going forward, the Union should continue to benefit from being able to sell some of its surplus properties. We hope to sell Hayes Court once the necessary condition (planning permission) is obtained. However the national education/training facility and conference centre and new Regional office in Birmingham will absorb funds.

Dispute Fund

The status of Unite’s Dispute Fund at 31st December 2013 is summarised in the table below:

£ Opening Balance – 1.1.13 26,495,054 Add: 2.5% from Branch Admin 3,539,099 Less: Dispute Benefits Paid (316,974) Expenses/Costs Nil deducted Closing Balance – 31.12.13 29,717,179

From a starting balance of £26.5 million at the beginning of 2013, the balance of the Dispute Fund has risen to £29.7 million as at 31st December 2013. This reflects inflows of £3,539,099 (the 2.5% diversion from Branch Administration) offset by Dispute Benefit payments totalling £316,974. Note that there has been no deduction of expenses/costs reflecting the EC’s previous endorsement of the General Secretary’s recommendation to this effect.

HMRC Update

The Union has been subject to two HMRC audits commencing in 2012 and continuing throughout the course of 2013. On the VAT audit, we believe we have reached agreement with HMRC, which will finalise all of Unite’s VAT returns through to the end of 2013. UNITE had contested an original assessment of £3.5 million including interest and penalties. If concluded, the tentative agreement would involve paying £0.8 million.

An initial assessment by HMRC on a PAYE audit had led to a claim against UNITE for £200,000 tax on behalf of employees on vouchers which were given to all employees at Christmas for several years and changes to the operation of UNITE’s fleet of cars.

UNITE will allocate cars to all Organisers (except Organisers in Training during their probation period). In order to keep the cash outlay down to manageable size, the Union purchased used Vauxhall Astra’s for the Organisers (versus new Toyota Avensis for Officers). In addition, it was agreed that the Organisers’ cars will not be changed until they reach 125,000 miles (no age limit), unless they are continually breaking down before that time. The Officers’ cars are changed at the earlier of 4 years or 125,000 miles.

Property Report

21 surplus properties have been disposed of and many properties refurbished. Now that the refurbishment work at the new SE Regional Office at Slough has commenced, the West Midlands is the only Region whose Regional Office has not been touched and where the premises are out of date. In addition, under the guidance of the National Disabled Members Committee, a full disability access review is being undertaken.

The one outstanding major project is the combined National Education/Training facility, conference centre and West Midlands Regional Office in Birmingham. The original proposal ran into difficulties and a new plan is underway at a nearby site. Unite has reached agreement with Birmingham City Council on a suitable site for the building; a hotel owner is committed who will take part of the site to build a circa 170 room 3 star hotel; once completed, the current Unite properties on Broad Street in Birmingham, Willenhall and West Bromwich would be sold.

Legal Director’s report

Howard Beckett reported on the following areas of work:

  • Audit of Panel Solicitors files
  • Regional Audits
  • Personal Injury and IT update
  • Prioritised Developments for Legal Department in early 2014
    • Unite legal successes
    • Bulletins Initiatives for PI claim generation
    • Serious injury work
    • Revising legal pack
    • Working with IT to develop an intranet site
    • Developing monitoring systems – referral/running costs/successes
    • Legal tab on stratum
    • Unite blacklisting report
    • Asbestos report
    • Grangemouth legal response
    • Financial position of the department
    • Legal cases of significance
    • PI, Employment & Tribunal case statistics
    • CAC applications
    • Industrial Dispute Report
    • Repudiation Report

Affiliated services

• Unite Credit Union Service

• Member gets Member Scheme

• Unite Home Insurance

• Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland – appointment of Compass Financial Associates to provide Independent Financial Advice

• Channel Islands – new booklet outlining range of legal and affiliated services to be available soon

• Unite Assist – road rescue

• Unite Protect

• Personal Accident Cover

• Unite Benevolent Fund • Unite Prepaid Debit Card & Unite Rewards

• Apprentice Toolkits

Membership Programmes

Retired Members Plus

There are now 55,225 members in this programme which generates considerable subscription income based on 50p per week. This is an increase of 2,344 since the last report and is almost entirely down to the outbound telephone campaign restarting.

Retention Policy and Procedures

The procedures to contact members who are in arrears has borne results in ensuring that over 9,000 members have recommenced paying by direct debit and retain the benefits of membership where appropriate.

The Back to Work programme

Regions continue to manage redundancy/closure situations to make sure that members affected are aware of this membership.

Membership System development

My Unite web portal is now live, where a member will be presented with a login page where they enter their usual credentials. Once the details have been entered a page showing various details relating to their membership, some content links to relevant resources and stories and where they can update their personal details will be displayed. The page each member sees is tailored to their individual details.

Join Online

With work ongoing to record the region, branch and sector against the workplaces, this will help in simplifying the join online process. With the implementation of the new SEPA changes, this allows us to offer residents of the Republic of Ireland the opportunity to join online. We are also amending this facility to allow people to join and pay through payroll deduction. Work on improving the recording of job titles for each member is also ongoing.

Branch Portal

The branch portal is being enhanced to improve the facilities and appearance. This is also being extended to allow other representatives of the union to gain access to membership data.

Membership report

Good progress is being made with the allocation of workplaces to regions. 99,220 workplaces are now allocated correctly with only 105 workplaces accounting for 1,685 members still to be done. Once this task is completed we will be able to allocate members to branches and sectors without the decision needing to be made by the member or the member of staff updating records and will ensure that they can only be moved with the proper authority of a region.

Total paying membership stood at 1,140,551 which is 7,245 more than in January and continues a recent trend of real positive growth in recent months – after years of decline. The four largest industrial sectors are GEMS 104,428 members; Finance and Legal 101,730 members; Health 99,307 members; and Passenger Transport 94,786 members.

UNITE/PCS talks

The General Secretary reported on meeting with Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of PCS and Ed Sabisky Unites Finance Director. Exploratory talks have progressed well and although no obstacles have been flagged up to preclude formal talks commencing, it was agreed to conclude exploratory talks before taking any further decisions.

UNITE fighting to save the NHS

A three hour debate took place on the NHS and Unite’s strategy to fight privatisation and cuts. Although UNITE is the minority health union behind UNISON and GMB, it is clear that UNITE is the only union with the political will to proactively campaign to defend our NHS. Preliminary proposals were laid before the Executive Council for a major UNITE-led campaign to defend our NHS against privatisation. Of all tenders gone out in the last year 70% have gone to private companies. This equals £9b worth of contracts. 230 MPs and Peers have links to private health companies which could be a focal point of a campaign. Further work is being done prior to a formal launch in the Spring.

Industrial Reports

  1. Transport: Diana Holland AGS reported that many of the points in Unite’s “Transport Matters” strategy document have been fed into Labour’s Policy Commission on Living Standards and Sustainability. UNITE participated in ITF Women’s Conference where violence was a big issue.
    1. Passenger Transport. Your Executive Council members raised concern at the lack of any inquiry into the officering in the Isle of Man bus dispute. Tony Woodhouse promised a meeting of those involved to look at the issues. UNITE’s taxi section continues to fight vigorously against Law Commission’s proposed outright deregulation. Following strong messages of support from UNITE, our Translink members in Northern Ireland have won commitments for Transport Minister not to privatise the networks.
    2. Road Transport Commercial and Logistics. From 1st January 2015 all drivers must possess a Petroleum Driver Passport to drive and unload. Now UNITE is aiming for an industry-wide pension scheme. An industrial action ballot at Eddie Stobbart’s over employer reneging on agreements. Union rep dismissed at Widnes depot. Strike action at Camden UPS against management bullying. Hard bargaining on pensions ongoing in Wincanton, Sainsburys and DHL.
    3. Docks Ferries Rail and Waterways After a bitter campaign at Thames Gateway DP World, the employer now signalling ready to talk re union access. d) Civil Air Transport. UNITE recognition finally agreed at British Airways Mixed Fleet, a major issue in the BA dispute. UNITE has responded to Airports Commission in support of Heathrow expansion. UNITE is supporting ETF actions to resist yet again EU prpo
  2. Manufacturing: Tony Burke AGS reported that output in automotive and aerospace was up but this was not a sustained recovery because it is fuelled by personal credit and the boom in house prices in South East. Exports are actually down which is all the more reason to push UNITE “Made in Britain” manufacturing strategy.
    1. Automotive. UNITE is actively promoting a strategy to “re-shore” components manufacture back to UK. The campaign to recruit agency workers scored a breakthrough at BMW where 1000 agency workers will get full-time status. Pay deals have in some case exceeded 3.5% e.g. Fords, Alexander-Dennis
    2. Aerospace & Shipbuilding. 95% vote in favour of industrial action at Babcock Marine (includes Trident nuclear submarine base) over 1% pay offer. 1770 shipbuilding jobs to go in Portsmouth and Clyde with Portsmouth to shut altogether. UNITE is campaigning to get other work into Portsmouth to save these highly skilled jobs. Meanwhile Airbus has announced 5000 job losses across Europe, 750 of which could be in UK. UNITE is supporting UAW to confront union busters at Rolls Royce plant in Virginia USA
    3. Chemical Pharmaceutical Process and Textile. UNITE is linking up with Norwegian union IndustriEnergi to gain access back on oil rigs. They had assisted in the past with agreements for RMT and AMICUS. ITF’s Noel Coard has been active working with UNITE’s petro-chemical workers in pursuit of global union joint strategies to organise all oil industry and oil transport workers at Ineos, Grangemouth and Conoco, Hull.
    4. General Engineering Manufacturing and Servicing. Following recognition at Mitie, UNITE has won a 26% increase for cleaners from £7 per hour to London Living Wage of £8.80p per hour from 1st April. UNITE Royal Mail members are balloting on an agreement to defend their pension post privatisation. 3% Pay increase agreed for Royal Mail. UNITE and CWU are lobbying Labour for re-nationalisation after the next election. UNI Europa has published a report exposing the attack on jobs and conditions following liberalisation of postal services e) Graphical Print and Media & IT & Communications. Job losses continue in commercial print due to over capacity. 1.124 jobs to go at Hewlett Packard as part of a global restructuring to cut 29,000 + jobs worldwide. Unite/Workers Uniting is involved in supporting USW members at Crown Holdings, (known as Crown Packaging in the UK). For six months USW members have been on strike in Toronto to defend their pay and conditions. f) Metals Strategic 100% campaigns underway whilst TATA restructuring threatens job losses.
  3. Services: Gail Cartmel AGS reported Unite’s new ‘Pay Up for Public Services’ publication sets out the arguments for better pay and wider economic benefits. ‘Pay Up for Public Services’ is timed for use during the TUC ‘Fair Pay Fortnight’ and in particular 28 March, the day of workplace activity called for by Unite members. UNITE is confronting outsourcing and this is made worse by Tories attacks on TUPE. The Sector is coordinating intelligence on best practice to help the fightback.
    1. Health We continue to campaign against privatisation and spending cuts in NHS where 70% of all recent contracts have gone to private providers. Successful start to new membership development project with dedicated Health Sector organisers. TUC October demo will focus on NHS and low pay/living wage. UNITE South Yorks ambulance workers still on dispute re derecognition – now balloting over imposed shift rotas.
    2. Local Authorities Joint union demand for £1 per hour pay rise. UNITE in major dispute with Labour-backed Hull who has served notice on 1st December to sack and re-engage workforce on worse terms and conditions.
    3. Construction Building and Allied Trades. UNITE has responded forcefully to HMRC consultation, ‘Onshore Employment Intermediaries: False Self Employment’ seeking views on “payroll companies” which suck tax out of the system – and are strongly backed by big business. Blacklisting campaign makes progress as Mike Abbott a blacklisted campaigner passes away. Construction output still 14.7% below 2008 level with loss of 289,000 jobs.
    4. Energy and Utilities UNITE’s lobbying work for energy workers has paid off, winning them “protected status” on their pensions. UNITE’s Constructions and Energy workers are supporting MUM’s campaign to promote Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) for coal-fired power stations. All UK’s remaining coal fired stations otherwise due to close by 2023 on environmental grounds
    5. Community Youth and Not for Profit Great sadness at sudden death of Paul Boscott leader of Community Youth Workers Union who brought his union into TGWU
    6. Education UNITE has joined other education unions in 3 one-day strikes at universities and colleges over 1% pay offer. Vice Chancellors have £22,000 p.a. pay rise!
    7. Finance and Legal 1,800 new union members recruited at Barclays in 2013. UNITE participating in Justice Alliance against cuts to Legal Aid. Thousands of job losses still going ahead in Lloyds, Barclays and RBS.
    8. MOD and Government Depts. MOD fire-fighters still waiting for 1% increase awarded 2013. Outsourcing of non-prisoner officer functions going ahead in our prisons – AMIE, MITIE, SODEXXO and CARRILLION potential bidders.

Equalities Report

Unite Equality Strategy 2014-17 – “Equality: Moving Forward”

The Unite Equality Strategy document was produced for the Unite National Equalities Conferences. In addition to the sections reported to the last EC, there is a section on “They call it bureaucracy – we call it protection from discrimination” summarising all the attacks and cuts on equality from this government. The delivery of equality through the collective bargaining agenda remains a key priority of the Unite Equality Strategy. Diana Holland AGS met the Unite National Officers in December to discuss the strategy for raising equality issues on the collective bargaining agenda

Organising Union Equality Reps

The Regional Women’s Organisers met in December to discuss developing the network of Union Equality Reps. It was proposed that we produce a monthly e – equality representatives newsletter, which can be adapted by each region, to encourage participation in Unite equality reps courses and to encourage equality reps to update their details on the unite membership system. There are currently 1,500 Union Equality Reps on the Unite Membership system.

Migrant Domestic Workers – Modern Day Slavery and the ‘tied visa’

One year on from the introduction of the ‘tied’ visa by this ConDem government, it is clear that the level of abuse reported has increased, at the same time as fear is preventing those who are abused from coming forward. UNITE supported the Domestic Workers J4DW rally for International Migrants Day was part of a powerful alliance of organisations that lobbied Vince Cable on the ratification of ILO Convention on Domestic Workers and the attack on the Overseas Domestic Workers Visa. Whilst government rhetoric is about ending modern day slavery, the reality is the undermining of a vital mechanism that ended slavery in the modern day – the Overseas Domestic Worker Visa introduced by Labour in 1998 with cross-Party support.

Unite Industrial Agenda for Equality

The recent National Industrial Sector Conferences all included key equalities industrial issues as part of the discussion on collective bargaining strategy, and a number of NISC Committees have discussed equalities priorities. This has been backed up by equalities briefings with all National Officers and AGSs.

Unite Young Members

Unite Young Members’ organisation is building, and there is important support to ensure this continues.

Remits

1) EM Reg Comm – Bus Passes- - to raise petitions for the retention of bus passes – Supported

2) Aerospace & Shipbuilding NISC – Research Dept. Reorganisation – to retain as is today - Noted

3) Local Authority – Length of NISC Sector Conference – This to form part of review of Sector Conferences.

4) Energy & Utilities NISC – Research Officer – for replacement - Noted

5) NW Reg Comm – Zero hours Contracts at Eastbourne – Agreed

6) L & E Reg Comm – National March: Defend NHS – Noted

7) BC & AT NISC – Blacklisted Workers Compensation Scheme – Supported

8) CYW&NfP NISC – Sector Research – not to cut back resources – Noted

9) CYW&NFP NISC – Reduced Membership Subscriptions – Left on table as under constant review

10) CYW&NfP NISC – Care Workers and the National Minimum Wage – Supported

11) NE&H Reg Comm – Additional Community Support Worker –noted due to a future review of Community Support Workers

12) SE Reg Comm – Sliding Scale of Contribution Rates – Left on table as under constant review

13) SE Reg Comm -to oppose NHS Privatisation - Supported

14) Nat Retired Members Comm – Union too supply Long Service Badges Free of Charge - Agreed

15) Nat Retired Members Comm – Retired Members in receipt of Union Pension to be able to participate in Retired Members Committee and Conference – This was Carried after going to the vote

16) Nat Women’s Comm – Lack of understanding of Women’s oppression – Remitted to Diana Holland AGS.

17) EM Reg Comm – Requests for Motions should be sent out by Email to Delegates form RISC/NISC/AACs/Branch Officers one month prior to meeting at which Motions to be considered – Supported.

Category: April 2014
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