5 May 2012
Tony Kearns, Senior Deputy General Secretary (SDGS), briefly reviewed the CWU annual accounts for 2011-2012.
He explained that due to Conference being held earlier in the year there had not been time to get the full audited accounts ready in time for conference, but that this would be resolved for next year. Income had increased by £500,000; head office expenditure had reduced by £1,000,000; and there was a total surplus of £925,000.
Welsh Valleys branch moved a motion to set up a formal complaints process to deal with complaints against officials that ensures the same complaint is not dealt with twice. Pete Keenlyside (NEC) asked the branch to remit or he would oppose on the basis that industrial committees would try and resolve issues informally, as the first stage of the formal process. The branch and conference agreed to remit.
Manchester Clerical branch moved a motion that claimed the full subscription rate of £14.61 was the biggest single inhibitor in recruiting new members, especially young people. Tony Kearns (SDGS) opposed for the NEC saying that young people did not know what unions are or are not asked to join; it's nothing to do with the subscription rate. The motion was lost by a majority.
A motion moved by Kenny Logan (Scotland No. 2) asked for a report on the likely impact of Scottish Independence or Devolution Max. Joe Malone (NEC) who said the process has already started with representations being made to UK and Scottish Governments. The motion was carried.
Andrew Crawley (North Midlands) noted the upsurge in protest groups and organisations in demonstrating against the Government. He said the motion, which principally wanted the NEC to allow affiliation to other groups and political parties fighting against the cuts, was to ensure fairness and consistency. There was support but Lee Barron (Midland Region Secretary) opposed calling it a "disaffiliation motion". Andy Gibb (Northern Ireland Telecom) said the motion was "downright dangerous" and "naïve in the extreme". Conference applauded Brian Kenny (Liverpool Clerical) as he said "The only way to get rid of the Tory Govenrnemnt and Tory led councils is to support Labour". Pete Donaghy (NEC) opposed whilst saying the CWU had a long history of broadening support for other organisations, but that supporting other political parties would not just mean disaffiliation, but expulsion from the Labour party. The motion was not carried.
Emergency Motion 3: Garry Williams (Solent) moved a motion to publicise the "draconian legislation" being passed in Russian cities to criminalise any discussion of homosexuality that would make it illegal to write, publish a book or speak in public about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Dave Daniel (LGBT Committee Chair) supported saying, "we forget what we have achieved here has not been achieved elsewhere". The motion was carried unanimously.
Brian Brookes (Birmingham and District Amal) from Midlands Health and Safety Forum proposed a motion to protect older members and make risk assessment for over 60's union policy. Ronnie Hansrani (Leicester Amal) said more older members are facing ill health retirement, while with only reasonable adjustments they may be able to continue to work. Don McClean (NEC) said he had to ask the branch to remit or he would oppose. The problem he said was the last part of the motion referring to risk assessment for over 60's, which he said was included in all policy agreements. The branch and conference agreed to remit.
Kenny Wright (Edinburgh, Dundee and Borders) from the Scottish Health and Safety Forum was concerned that the accident reporting systems in many businesses were not fit for purpose. Dave Joyce (NEC) supported saying there should be early notification of accidents to safety reps and un-agreed processes should be abandoned. The branch delegates voted for and the motion was carried unanimously.
Chad Croom (South Central No. 1) from Eastern Region Health and Safety Forum proposed a motion concerning the Governments’ "watering down" of health and safety legislation. He wanted the NEC to promote, support and participate in campaigns to fight the attacks on workers’ health and safety. In support Nick Darbyshire (NEC) said that the Health and Safety Executive budget was being cut by 35% and the Löfstedt review would result in more cuts in health and safety legislation. The motion was carried unanimously.
Kate Dunning (West London Postal) from the London Region Health and Safety Forum moved a motion for the procedures to be in place to deal with the needs of menopausal women. She said there is legislation to protect pregnant women and new mothers, but no protection for menopausal women. There was support from Karen Rose (NEC). The motion was carried unanimously.
Conference carried the motion proposed by York and District Amal, to develop a Political Training course for CWU Political Officers and activists.
Merseyside Amal proposed a motion to help improve the employment prospects of young people who take part in Work Experience Schemes like that in place in Royal Mail. The motion was carried.
Peter Robinson (South and East Thames Amal) proposed a motion to re-design the union membership application form to include wording that would state membership would continue after retirement, with the membership subscription automatically adjusted to the retired rate. The aim was to retain members once they retire. Tthe motion was lost by a majority of about 80%.
Motion 66: Sonia Cambell (Birmingham Black Country and Worcester) proposed a motion to have an officer allocated to each company where the union is actively recruiting. Deputy General Secretary Telecoms (DGST) Andy Kerr had to ask the branch to remit or he would have to oppose, saying that whilst he was sympathetic, there simply were not enough officers to take on the extra work. The branch and conference agreed to remit.
Billy Hayes said it had been a tough year for the CWU, a hard year for you, your friends and family and a terrible year for the British economy. Living standards in 2011 were the same as in 2005 and Osbourne’s austerity policies have meant that there has been no overall growth in the UK economy in the past 15 months. On technology, he said "we need to have practical policies that are up-to-date." and in particular reference to high-speed Broadband, "We will need to continue to focus on training our telecoms workers to adapt to the next generation’s technology." He also spoke about the continuing battle against the privatisation of Royal Mail and the advantages of retaining it as a public service. In closing Billy remarked "As a Union, we must ensure that we devote proper resources in the branches and from the national union to address the company concerns of our members."
Linda Keitz, London Regional Committee (West London), moved a motion that future proposed changes to the administration of the equality advisory committee should only take place after consultation with the affected parties. Tony Kearns, (SDGS) opposed, reminding conference that Rules Revision conference passed motion 30 that now stipulates the size of the committees in the rules. The motion was lost by a majority of 70%.
Jim McNichols (Greater Manchester Amal) proposed a motion to review practices and procedures for all conferences and elections. Tony Kearns, (SDGS) said he recognised there were problems, but opposed, and asked the branch to withdraw on the grounds of the rule changes made the previous day. The branch agreed to withdraw the motion.
Mark Hugail (Newcastle Amal) proposed a motion to campaign against the proposed reform of the political boundaries. There was support from Pete Donaghy (NEC) who said that out 650 constituencies only 77 would remain unchanged, resulting in 600 constituencies, with the loss of 25 Labour seats and gain for Tories of 12 seats. The motion was carried unanimously.
Dave Daniels (LGBT Advisory Committee Chair) proposed a motion on behalf of the LGBT Conference for the NEC to discuss the continuing support for Joe Benton MP, who he said had voted against six LGBT and women’s issues in the House of Commons. General Secretary Billy Hayes asked for the motion to be remitted or he would oppose, he said we need to allow an opportunity for explanation. The motion was carried by a majority of 90%.
Emergency Motion 4: Scotland No. 1 branch delegate condemned as "disgraceful" the freeze on the age-related tax allowance in the 2012 Budget in a motion calling for a campaign to restore the links with RPI. There was only support from delegates and Tony Kearns (SDGS). The branch delegates voted for and the motion was carried unanimously.
Motion 48: Ernie Purkiss (Birmingham) moved a motion for the NEC to organise national protests at BT and PO Group headquarters, concerning the effect on of pensions linking to CPI instead of RPI. Noel McClean (NEC) supported saying that by 2020 pensions will be 17% lower under CPI calculation that with RPI. The motion was carried unanimously.
Andy Beeby (Eastern No. 5), moved motion calling for the NEC to support the Samaritans and Sane in their work to help prevent the increasing number of young people, predominantly men, who are taking their own lives. Eastern Region Secretary, Paul Moffat (Central Counties & Thames Valley), recounted his own experiences and how alone he felt when he had a serious bout of depression a few years ago. A number of speakers rose to support, all citing the anxiety and pressure from threats of redundancy and the attitude of management over performance issues. Simon Sapper (NEC) began his support by asking for the Samaritans telephone number 08457 90 90 90 to be displayed on the video screens, saying that statistically in a gathering of the size of the conference there would be people present who are likely to be affected. The motion was carried unanimously.