Welcome to Congress 2018!
We’re delighted to be in Brighton for our 101st GMB Congress - the agendas are printed, speeches written and we’ve even managed a bit of sunshine!
This is your daily Congress blog which gives you updates for the day, some handy links and reminders about what’s happening and where it’s happening.
Congress business starts this morning at 9:30am before we get stuck into motions and debate, we will have a tribute to Mary Turner, who was a big part of Congress for many years and will be sadly missed here this week. We have a tribute to Mary on the ground floor, where you can also sign the condolences book. But Mary wouldn’t have wanted us to mourn, she’d have wanted us to organise, so that’s what we’ll do.
Today we will have motions on the floor, and fringe meetings and workshops at lunchtime. We’re trying a few workshops this year to see if they work - they’re more practical and training focussed than fringe meetings.
For those of you who like social media, we’re going with #GMB18 for the hashtag - we’ll be keeping an eye on you through that! We'll be posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Mary Turner RIP
Congress was opened with a tribute to Mary Turner by Tim Roache, General Secretary. Mary's granddaughter Lisa addressed Congress and a short film about Mary was shown.
Motions to Congress
The first day's motions up for debate, included motions on GMB Money, Trade Union Day, GMB and the Trade Union Friends of Israel, Review of GMB@Work, Drugs Testing in the Workplace, Pensions, Working Time Directive, Councillor Pay and Conditions, Brexit, Labour Party, Democracy and Voting, Young Workers and Union Rights for Workers in Uniform, to name but a few.
CEC Special Report: Review of GMB Elections
Brian Golding from Rowntree & Associated Branch speaking in support of the CEC Special Report on a review of GMB elections.
Motion 31: GMB MONEY
Sarah Walker from ASDA Stores Branch moving Motion 31.
This Conference calls for each new GMB member to be provided with information and recruitment forms for GMB Money, along with other documents which they receive as a newly recruited member.
Our region was the lucky recipient of two awards this year at Congress. The first was the Eleanor Marx Award 2018 (Special Award) which was given to Sarah Kelly from Yorkshire Ambulance Service Branch. Sarah is an ambulance technician and has been pivotal in telling her story around her sexual assault by a patient in the ambulance whilst on duty. Sarah was faced with a lack of support from her employer so through her GMB branch a campaign was started called Protect the Protectors which through the help of local MPs a bill was produced that calls for a new offence of assaulting an emergency worker, new sentencing guidance and new powers to take bodily samples from suspects.
The second award was the President’s Leadership Award for Equality in which our region was highly commended for the work that our Equality Forum does. The award was picked up by Ian Kemp on behalf of the forum.
CEC Statement: Political Strategy & Labour Party Reform
Karen Rowling from Brighouse Organising Branch speaking in support of the CEC
Motion 234: COUNCILLOR PAY AND CONDITIONS
Karen Rowling from Brighouse Organising Branch speaking on Motion 234
This Conference, the changes in the law introduced by the Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis on the 1st April 2014 abolished councillor‘s access as tax payers to contributing to pension‘s schemes.
Councillors elected from 1st April 2014 were not entitled to join the Local Government Pension Scheme and existing councillors with a pension have had their policy terminated at the end of their current term of office.
This has left councillors in limbo! What are councillors? In actuality they are not classed as employed yet they pay a class 1employed persons contribution at 12% from our allowance.
Why are we paying employees contributions at the higher rate when we are not classed as employed? If we are employed, why don‘t we have access to contribute to a pension scheme?
Class 1 contributions clearly states employed
Class 2 self-employed flat rate earn less than £6025
Class 3 Voluntary Contribution
Class 4 self-employed people earning profits over £8164 per annum
The impact of this is that anyone of working age is immediately disadvantaged. This is another way of this government creating a barrier to people being involved in democracy.
What is the attraction for new and young people, who want to become a councillor?
How do we encourage someone of 25 or 35 with the responsibility of rent, a mortgage and family, to live off half a wage slip and not build up a pension from it?
What about the councillors who have dedicated their life to public service. A councillor does more now, and have taken on greater responsibilities. Being a councillor is a full time job.
Congress I ask you to support us in being recognised and have employment rights.
Support councillors in England to be recognised and have access to the pension schemes. Their Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts can continue to be part of a pension scheme, and plan for their retirement years. Support English councillors who are severely disadvantaged in comparison.
Shaun Thompson from Sheffield S38 Branch seconding Motion 234
Motion 270: DEMOCRACY AND VOTING – CURRENT POLICY
This Conference, our proud nation boasts a parliament which has been the envy of, and a model for, many other democracies around the world. Despite this proud heritage, political apathy is rife within our communities and thousands of British citizens feel unwilling or unable to take part in the democratic process- a process for which people fought and died.
Congress notes that our 2017 National Policy Guide states that a call in 2009, to introduce compulsory voting at local, general and European elections for all over 18, was referred, with advice that if this motion was placed before Congress, the recommendation would be to oppose it. Congress, in the 8 years since that 2009 call, political engagement has increased slightly, but there is still a huge mountain to climb in order to make our democracy truly reflective. I submit that there should be a full and frank discussion regarding this aspect of current GMB policy.
Having these discussions, I believe, would lead to fruitful policy suggestions that would help increase voter engagement and give our county the working democracy our members and our citizens deserve.
Motion 149: UNION RIGHTS FOR WORKERS IN UNIFORM
Ian Kemp from Parkgate Branch moving Motion 148
This Conference firmly believes in the right of all workers to join a trade union and the right of all workers to take lawful industrial action. In saying ―all workers‖, this means ALL workers. This includes workers in uniforms, namely the armed forces and police. Despite the way the State tries to divide us and keep them separate from other workers in order to use against us, the rank and file of the armed forces and police are workers like other workers. And, like other workers, they have suffered job losses and wage freezes. Like other workers, they face bullying and harassment from those in positions of authority. Like other workers, they need to defend themselves and have the right to fight against attacks on their terms and conditions.
Conference calls for the armed forces and police to have to right to join a trade union and the right to take industrial action. The GMB has members who are police support workers and, members who supply and support the armed forces. It‘s time police officers and members of the armed forces were allowed to join and be active too.
Janine Moyes, moving Motion 149
End of Day's Congress Business