AGM 2011 - feedback

Report of the Norwich City UNISON Branch AGM 2011

The Norwich City UNISON branch AGM on Wednesday 16 March 2011 was well attended with 46 members present at the meeting. This report presents the highlights from the meeting.

Opening Remarks: Branch Chair, Scott Brinkley, gave his opening remarks by welcoming and thanking members for attending the meeting. He introduced Brian Lynch, Regional Organiser, who also spoke about the impact that the attack on public services would have on the local economy, which are likely to be significant if the troubles felt by employees at Connaught and Bennetts witnessed recently are anything to go by.

Scott and Brian both emphasised the importance of the March for Public Services on 26 March, asking for as many branch members and their families to attend as possible.

Annual Report: Branch Secretary, Kevin O’Grady, introduced the annual report covering the branch’s activity during 2010. Kevin congratulated branch committee members Otis Hernandez and Julie Fenton, who represented the branch at the National Delegate Conference and proposed two motions for the branch that were agreed at conference, on impunity in the Philippines and the national minimum wage.

The branch’s experience of Connaught going into administration was reported, with around 300 employees of the company being told they were losing their jobs – a situation the branch never wished to see repeated again. UNISON has been assisting members who were taking legal action against the company. The transfer of the council’s legal services to NP Law was reported as an example of public-public shared services, which are considered preferable to public-private arrangements. While this was a reasonably successful outcome, Kevin highlighted the potential for further shared services that may have more negative impacts.
The AGM’s attention was also drawn to the branch’s success in the negotiations around proposals to create a joint venture with Norfolk Property Services for the council’s asset and city management department. Members both in favour and in opposition to the proposals shared concerns about the manner in which proposals had been developed, resulting in a planned lobbying of the council’s cabinet and withdrawal of the report.

HR Transformation: Kevin O’Grady introduced the report on activity during 2010, which included the end of one round of restructuring and the start of another. It was reported that the council’s funding gap for 2011/12 had been met through £1 million of reserves and non-staffing savings, but that further proposals for savings, with the possibility of job cuts, were likely to follow for 2012/13.

Pay 2011/12: The current position was reported, including the disappointing refusal of the Local Government Employers to follow the lead of other public sector employers by paying the Chancellor’s promised £250 to the lowest paid members.

Single Status: The AGM was informed of a cabinet meeting taking place on the evening of the meeting, where a report was being taken asking for cabinet’s approval to pay compensation to staff affected by the proposals (6 months back pay or 6 months protection). A range of views were expressed about the proposals concerning the extent of any negative impact on members and the nature of the ballot that is due to take place. Members were informed that the branch will keep them informed.

Pensions: The publication of the Hutton report was reported, which includes 27 recommendations about the future of public sector pensions. It is not known at this stage whether the government will adopt any of these recommendations, although the government has indicated that contributions are set to rise by a further 3% of salaries over the next three years.

The impact of possible changes to the LGPS was discussed by the AGM, including on both younger and older members in the scheme and the wider economy. The Branch Secretary agreed to find out if model letters were available for members to write to their MPs in advance of any government decisions.