Unison National Delegate Conference 2024 Branch Report

Report from Janine Broderick (she/her)

 

Unison National Delegate Conference this year took place in the context of Tory austerity, racism, attacks on Trans rights and the genocide in Gaza.

These issues were debated during motions at Conference and it was heartening to see so many Black, Trans, non-binary, young members and those with intersecting identities take to the rostrum to speak. One Muslim delegate even delivered her excellent contribution to conference in spoken word!

We heard inspiring speeches from guest speakers. The Palestinian Ambassador to the UK,  Dr Husam Zomlot spoke of the horrors of the genocide taking place in Gaza but also the hope that trade union solidarity and mass protests have brought. Conference gave him a standing ovation and delegates held placards and raised chants for “Ceasefire Now!”

After his speech conference passed the motion on Palestine including calling for an immediate ceasefire, recognising a Palestinian state and suspending arms sales to Israel.

2024 is Unison’s Year of the LGBT worker. The Trans activist Munroe Bergdorf spoke about the meaning of Pride month being a vehicle for protest and change and how the fight against transphobia and for LGBTQ+ rights is a fight for every day and a fight for all of us. As she said: “None of us are free until we are all free”.

Conference committed to support protests for Trans rights and Trans Pride events and to promote LGBTQ+ equality. Gender neutral pronouns are now embedded in Unison’s rules. For regional representation the male seat has been replaced by a general seat to support non-binary members to stand and be more inclusive. In the debate on domestic violence, delegates of different genders spoke movingly of their experiences of domestic violence.

Another highlight of the conference was the celebration of strikes. Delegates from across Unison regions who had been on strike filled the front of the hall with Unison flags to loud applause. Barnet social workers were on a live feed on day 66 of their strike. Conference had also heard how activism and winning builds union membership and strength.

On anti racism, Conference committed to ensuring a legacy for the Year of Black Workers 2023, including more training and to continue to fight racism in the workplaces, to support migrant workers and to fight racism outside of work, such as opposing the fascist Tommy Robinson.

I was proud to have moved the motion on Cuts and Funding on behalf of Birmingham Branch, with our NEC member Mandy Buckley moving the amendment. Conference passed the motion which called for fair and restored funding for local