21 Jun 2008

UNISON Rules Debate - Putting the Record Straight

I am going to blog more later about why the the LGBT group decided to oppose the NDMC rule amendment to introduce a branch disabled members officer. But I just wanted to put therecord straight to something that was raised in the right of reply. The NDMC delegate said that there had been full consultation with the other self organised groups. This is untrue. Prior to the rule amendment being submitted to the NDC preliminary agenda there had been no discussions between the groups. At an equality liaison meeting in January 2008, the decisions from Disabled Members Conference and LGBT Conference were on the agenda for noting. The motion from Disabled Members Conference which urged the NDMC to submit a rule change was not pointed out whereas the LGBT reps pointed out any motions that may have an implication for wider equality structures, may involve a rule change or may effect other self organised groups.

The NDMC decided to submit the rule amendment and the first the NLGBTC became aware of this would have been on the publication of the preliminary agenda, but for the NLGBTC rep on NDMC being aware this was a possibility. However, the NLGBTC only become formally aware on publication of NDC preliminary agenda. At no time did the NDMC chairs contact any of the other National SOG Committee chairs. The NLGBTC Co-chairs were concerned about the implications of the creation of the post and wrote to the Co-chairs of the NDMC expressing these concerns prior to the next Equality Liaison meeting in April 2008. At that meeting, no useful discussion took place between the SOGs about the rule amendment and there was definately no consultation but the NLGBTC did put the NDMC and the NEC on notice that they were considering opposing the rule amendment.

Following this, a formal ballot took place of all members of the NLGBTC who overwhelmingly voted in favour of opposing both the NDMC and Suffolk County rule amendments. Motions have been passed at previous LGBT conferences on self organisation and equality representation.

The National Womens Committee met at a later date and discussed the rule amendment with opposition being voiced. National Black Members Committee also met and discussed the rule amendment and as their delegate said that although they decided to speak in support the issue of whether or not to support went to a vote so was not achieved by consensus.

There was a meeting of the National Disabled Members Committee at the end of May 2008 and the NLGBTC reps on the committee once again were open and transparant about the opposition to the rule amendment and were even prepared to put some of the arguments forward. However, again there was limited discussion as to the reasons why the NLGBTC is opposed to the creation of such a post but more to the fact that it was disgraceful that another self organised group is opposing the NDMC!

A further equality liaison meeting was held at the start of June 2008 and once again the NLGBTC co-chairs raised their opposition including some of the reasons (and quite strongly) in the meeting to both the NEC and NDMC in the presence of the other self organised groups and Young Members Officer. Again, the NDMC would not enter into a discussion and the only discussion was between the NLGBTC and the NEC on this matter.

Finally, on the day of the debate, we even published some of our reasons why we were opposed in our conference newssheet.

The national LGBT group has been honest and transparant and tried to enter into dialogue with the NDMC from the moment that the preliminary agenda was published but without any response. We still have not received a response to the e-mail we sent to the NDMC co-chairs in April.

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