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unite WOR Unite polKicy conferSence 2016 - Unite Conference 2016... · PDF fileUNITE ON...

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    uniteWORKSUnite policy conference 2016

    INSIDE: Conference highlights Policies Speakers

    Unite policy conference opensA force to be reckoned with

    Unites fourth policy conference where Unite delegates formulated theunions key policies for the next twoyears took place in Brighton in thesecond week of July.

    In his opening remarks Unitesexecutive committee chair, TonyWoodhouse (pictured), laid outUnites mission to protect andimprove pay and conditions forworking people.

    He noted that the landscape hadchanged since the union had met at theRules Conference last year for one,the Tory government had now passedits vindictive trade union Act.

    That they need to resort to suchtactics shows that the trade unionmovement in this country and Unite remains a force to be reckonedwith, Woodhouse noted.

    Despite the laws they try to strangleus with, Unite will make sure it carrieson using every lever we can to win forour members.

    He highlighted the plight of steelworkersand emphasised Unites commitment tothem.

    Woodhouse also paid tribute to Unitesyoung members, who for the first timecame as full delegates, as well theconferences many internationalspeakers, including two of the MiamiFivewho were wrongly imprisoned inAmerica and were freed thanks to a

    global campaign led by Unite. Ourunion has a proud history of beinginternational in our outlook, he said.And we will carry on doing so.

    Woodhouse closed by noting thatdelegates decisions made during theconference would be taken toworkplaces and will make a difference tomillions of families, to their livelihoodsand their prospects in life.


    Miracle opportunityIn an historic appearance two of theMiami Five anti-terrorismcampaigners who were wronglyaccused of espionage and spentnearly two decades in a US prison received an emotional standingovation at policy conference.

    Rene Gonzales and GerardoHernndez, freed in 2011 and 2014respectively following a globalcampaign in which Unite played apivotal role, thanked Unites leadersand members for their tirelesssupport.

    Unite general secretary LenMcCluskey, said he was incrediblyproud of Unites campaign, and hepaid tribute to Tony Woodley,former Unite joint-general secretary,who he said drove the campaign tothe free the Five with incredibleenergy and determination as did

    Hernndez who gave special thanksfor Woodleys many prison visits.

    He also hailed the many Unitemembers who participated in thecampaign. Gonzales called theopportunity to come to speak at theUnite policy conference a miracle,considering not only the strugglethey faced in securing their freedombut also in securing visas to come tothe UK their applications wereoriginally denied by the HomeOffice.

    Fighting against such hatred takes alot of strength, Gonzales added. Agreat deal of that strength camefrom British unions which startedwith Unite. But Cuba still needs yoursupport to celebrate the day we winwith the end of the blockade andwhen the US gives back the territoryof Guantanamo Bay.

    2Policy Conference 2016


    Save oursteel Delegates carried a series of motionsemphasising the need to work withvarious organisations, including steelunions, the Labour party andgrassroots organsations to save thebeleagured industry.

    Conference heard about the dangers ofChina being granted market economystatus a motion was carried callingon Unite to lobby governments toprotect key industries such as steelshould China achieve this status.

    Delegates called for Unite to lobby thewider Labour party to adopt all theunions #SaveOurSteel campaignobjectives, including tackling Chinesedumping and ensuring governmentcontracts buy British steel, amongother aims.


    Strategy call A strategic plan for UK manufacturingis needed to tackle its steep decline,conference heard.

    The need to ensure Labour developsthis strategic manufacturing plan apossibility after a future Labour victoryunder the leadership of JeremyCorbyn, who has explicitly endorsedthe idea was also highlighted.

    Delegates supported the call for Uniteto lobby for government fundedresearch and development linked tohigh quality jobs and apprenticeships.

    In the absence of Tory governmentsupport for manufacturing, conferenceresolved to instruct Unite to encourageand support members in taking directaction to save threatened industry.


    Thanks Unite Rene Gonzalesmakes historic speech


    Defend our jobsIn the debate on defencediversification and Trident, Unitepolicy conference made it clear thatdefending and securing the jobs of

    defence workers involved inthe successor submarineprogramme was itspriority.

    But Unite alsocastigatedsuccessivegovernments fortheir failure todevelop a robustdefencediversificationstrategy that would

    safeguard defence jobs.

    Moving an executive statement Unitegeneral secretary Len McCluskey said,We can and do, in this statement,reassert our broad principles regardingopposition to nuclear weapons and ourstrong support for defence diversification.

    But we know that we do not have agovernment in place that has anyinterest in either of those principles.Here in 2016, a vote against buildingthose submarines would have only oneimmediate effect destruction of jobs.

    Linda Pollock (pictured left) fromScotland stood in staunch support ofthe executive statement. She argued thatunions must stand up for all jobs in allsectors.

    Our members expect us to defendtheir jobs, she said. Thats why theypay their dues. Jobs first; politicssecond.

    Ian Bestwick (pictured above) anaerospace worker from the EastMidlands said the debate was actuallyabout the renewal of submarines[Successor programme] and not aboutre-newing Trident.

    Darren Reynolds, Wales said, TheEC statement has made it clear theunion exists to defend jobs. We need toknow our union puts jobs abovepolitical ideals. The executive statementwas carried.


    Remain united, remain strongIn a dynamic keynote address Unitegeneral secretary Len McCluskeyemphasised the importance of unity at atime in which, he said, our country isriven by the EU referendum.

    Our movement is divided bitterly andunnecessarily, he said. Millions ofworking people are looking for urgentanswers to the crisis engulfing us.

    He pointed to the car factories and steelplants now under a shadow, our oil andgas industry being ravaged, as well asour threatened public service andfinance sectors, among others whoneed the support of Unite more nowthan ever before.

    McCluskey hailed the main victoriesUnite has had this year, includingsecuring millions in compensation forblacklisted workers, campaigning againstthe EU-US trade deal TTIP, andsuccessfully pressuring restaurants intochanging their tipping policies.

    He pointed to Unites successfulleverage campaigns as well as its

    political campaign against the tradeunion Bill which helped defeat someof the bills worst measures.

    He paid tribute to assistant generalsecretary Steve Turner and officerLuke Primarolo and others involved inthe campaign against Sports Direct andits draconian work practices.

    McCluskey closed by emphasising whatsets Unite apart its ability to reach outinto the community and bring thosepushed onto the margins of society intoour movement.

    We reach agreements where possibleand fight for our members, he said.We debate difference and we cherishunity. We stand proud in the British,Irish and international labourmovement. We have much still to do myfriends, and we will do it together.

    To cheers and a rousing standingovation, McCluskey concluded, Whilewe remain united, we will remainstrong.

    3Policy Conference 2016


    4Policy Conference 2016


    Hope over hateTUC general secretary FrancesOGrady (pictured) addressedconference in a speech in whichshe lauded Unites work andoutlined what the trade movementwill need to fight todays attackson working people.

    Unite reps and campaigns make areal difference, she said. Fromthe Fight for Five campaign to yourwonderful work on all strands ofequality, this union is a powerfulforce for good.

    After the recent vote to leave theEU, OGrady laid out what shebelieved were three key prioritiesfor trade unions in a post-Brexitworld.

    One goal was ensuring workersdont pay the price of Brexit,which demands action to secureour economy, raise productivityand win investment.

    She also emphasised theimportance of defending hard-won rights. She noted how themovement had already shownour mettle on the governmentstrade union Act, including

    winning key concessions onmeasures restricting check-off,facility time, picket lines andunions political funds.

    But, she said, the campaign is notover yet and pledged to continuefighting the Act in its entirety.

    A third key priority, she argued,was winning a fair deal for youngpeople. They paid the heaviestprice for the crash, recession andliving standards crisis, OGradysaid. Trade unions need to bethere for them.

    She argued the road forwardwould be hard and urgedtrade unionists to sticktogether.

    Lets stay trueto our tradeunion values,OGradyconcluded.Lets standup for what webelieve in. Letsensure hopetriumphs overhate.


    Fighting against privatisation ofpublic services was an importantdiscussion for delegates whosupported a call to raise awarenessand challenge commissioning bodieson transparency and publicaccountability.

    Yorkshire ambulance workerDebbie Wilkinson (pictured) said,Public services should beaccountable to the public theyservice.

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