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Friday, June 23, 2006


The whole of this week was spent in sunny Bournemouth at the UNISON National Delegate Conference. I have been sat here trying to think of ways of making it sound exciting. I can’t. While I was there I was trying to keep a specific union blog, I did not really have enough time to do it justice and I aim to do some more work on it over the next few days to make it as comprehensive as possible, so if you are really interested, go here.

Me partner in grime Roy Dellow in the newsroom bright and early before the other teams arive.
I don’t go to conference as a delegate, I spend all day working on a regional newssheet, researching and writing stories about conference, laying them out and getting them to print so every morning and afternoon delegates have a news letter on their chair that gives them info about what is coming up and what has gone on relevant to the Wales region. It is much more fun than actually getting into all the bureaucracy of conference, it allows me to spend loads of time playing with computers, it allows me to write about politics and inform debate and it allows me to throw in some fun stuff. I am a firm believer in trade unions and some pretty interesting stuff can be debated at conferences, but I do have serious doubts about how much of an impact conference actually has on the real world, so working on the newssheets allows me to avoid getting bogged down in all the bullshite.
My mate Billy reminding conference that it is lay member led and the grass roots will not roll over for a compromise that will lead to a two tear pension.

The one thing that really did stand out for me was a speech made by a delegate from my branch that was very critical of the NEC, and in particular the national negotiators dealing with the pensions dispute. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck when he made his speech. We got a roasting from national office for reprinting what he said in the newssheet, but fortunately our regional convenor and secretary had the bottle to tell national office to get lost.

For me, a big thing about Conference is the networking. Away from the conference floor you can make lots of contacts and share ideas, hatch plans etc, which is where I think the real work gets done. It has to be said there are a lot of people that think networking means getting pissed with people from other branches, which is OK in moderation, but some people think that is the only reason to go to conference. Fortunately there are a lot of people who do actually take things seriously and some significant work can be done… which was particularly important this year given the way the NEC were trying to stifle debate on the conference floor.

For the official uniosn conference pages, go here


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