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NEC Meeting: Wednesday 6 October 10am
To start the NEC meeting, Kath Owen, Vice President welcomed us all to the meeting from the Conference centre on the 9th floor of the UNISON centre in London. This was a hybrid meeting with most logged on at home or wherever based. Christina McAnea, General Secretary and other senior officers and committee chairs were in the UNISON centre.

Kath Owen explained that she wished to bring a series of resolutions to the NEC meeting which had been circulated to all NEC members the previous weekend. Legal advice from the Executive office
had also been circulated to members. (The latter about an hour before this meeting.) The resolutions highlighted issues that had been encountered by the Presidential team since they had come into office.

The motions were emailed out by the Vice Presidents at 5pm on Friday 1st, the evening before South West Regional Council and on the day of Council. We had not seen the resolutions and so were not
in a position to report this to Council, and certainly not be able to invite feedback before the vote.
Given the sensitive nature of the resolutions, even if we had seen the resolutions in time, we may not have been able to publicise them without guidance from the NEC on doing this or legal advice.
An officer of UNISON advised that a record of how members voted in these motions would be required. Also, that the legal advice, which was distributed about an hour before the meeting, was
of the view that 4 of the 6 motions breached the existing rule book and therefore would need rule changes to National Delegate Conference next year. Kath Owen stated that the view of the
Presidential team was that the resolutions concerned interpretation of existing rule, not creating new rules. The interpretation of rule was the NEC role in between conferences, as also set out in the rulebook.

A point of order was raised asking could we have a vote on whether the motions could be heard and could this be a roll call vote. The roll call vote was taken on whether to hear the motions and the result was:
For 37, Against 26, 0 abstentions.
Andrea Egan, Vice President, introduced the motions.
Andrea reminded us that under Rule 2.1 management and control of the union between National Delegate Conference is vested in the NEC, with full power and authority to act on behalf of the union in every respect and for every purpose falling within objects of the union. She also advised that this is a member-led union where the role of officers is to carry out lawful instructions of the NEC. The motions are designed to assist in ensuring decisions of the NEC, and those decisions where the NEC has delegated its powers, are carried out efficiently and promptly.

Resolution 1 Pursuant to Rules D.2.1, D.2.8, and D.2.11.9 the NEC resolves to convene every other month and that the current cycle of Committee meetings will continue as at present but with each Committee reporting to the next NEC meeting.
An NEC member seconded the resolution stating more meetings would help as we have significantly overrun and run out of time at NEC meetings very often and this causes problems for disabled NEC
members, those with caring commitments and when NEC members need to return to work. It would also give us more opportunity to mobilise and campaign effectively for our members. The NEC member noted that at the July 14 2021 NEC meeting we were told a simple motion setting the date of the next NEC meeting was unlawful but now the external legal advice sought by the Executive office agreed this was lawful, demonstrating how significantly legal advice can vary and change.
Another NEC member stated that this was a rule change and requires a 2/3rd majority. This is not the case and this motion had already been accepted by UNISON’s legal advisor as within the existing rules.
A concern was raised regarding the potential need for more facility time and would hybrid continue to reduce this? Andrea Egan stated yes, both hybrid and online can be used to cut costs and time.
For 44, Against 20, 2 abstentions.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham abstained

Resolution 2 Pursuant to Rules D.2.1 and D.2.9 the NEC appoints a Committee consisting of the President and Vice-Presidents (the quorum for which shall be two) to be known as ‘the Presidential Team’ to which it delegates, between meetings of the NEC, the NEC’s powers (including the power to direct the General Secretary from time to time as may be necessary pursuant to Rules D.2.13.1 and E.3.1) other than powers it has delegated to the Development and Organisation Committee. The Presidential Team shall seek the endorsement of the next NEC meeting for any such exercise of its delegated powers.
An NEC member outlined arguments for seconding the motion: The long standing Presidential Team effectively acts as a committee, but this is not properly codified; there are no clear guidelines or boundaries to work within; all powers are based on precedent, not all of which is clear to lay members or has an obvious rationale; the NEC needs clarity on what powers it is delegating to its Presidential Team and requires it to report back on decisions taken.
Arguments against – One member raised concern that this is a rule change.
Another NEC member stated that this motion is not needed as the Rule book is clear already. The response to this was that although this is true, it does not allow for accountability of the Presidential team decisions.
For 38, Against 26, 0 abstentions.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham voted against

Resolution 3: Pursuant to Rule D.2.1, D2.9 and D.2.11.15 the NEC directs the Presidential Team to instruct (through the Union’s legal department or such other solicitor as the Presidential Team thinks fit) counsel of the Presidential Team’s choice, at such a time and in such terms as the Presidential Team consider appropriate, to advise the NEC on any matter which the Presidential Team consider warrants such advice.
An NEC member spoke whilst seconding the motion: Legal opinion is always open to interpretation.
The Motion explicitly argues to go through the legal department, but gives the NEC, as the client, the right to choose in regard to which external counsel is used.
An NEC member seconded the motion and stated that if we passed this resolution we would have codified and clarified what the situation is, which is all the motion seeks to do.
The following points for and against this motion were raised:
An NEC member stated that this rule undermines the legal team and impacts their contract of employment.
Another member reported that their branch took action a few years ago, and were strongly advised not to by their regional office, they won a pay rise of 4.5%. Had they followed advice they would not have won.
An officer said that legal advice says that this motion is a breach of Unison rules, and it’s for conference to determine and is also an employment contract issue. She reminded NEC members of their legal and fiduciary responsibilities and said members of staff cannot be instructed to breach the law and will not be able to enact them.
Andrea Egan stated that it is not an attempt to do this. It reflects where there is a difference of interpretation of rule, the Presidential Team must have the right to seek advice independently of senior officers if appropriate. Legal opinion is always open to interpretation. The resolution explicitly argues to go through legal department where appropriate.
After this was passed the presidential team said they would seek legal advice from John Hendy QC, one of the most renown legal experts on trade union law.
For 38, Against 26, Abstention 0.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham voted against.

Resolution 4 Pursuant to Rules D.2.1, D.2.9 and the preamble to Schedule D, the NEC delegates to its Development and Organisation Committee all its powers in relation to disciplinary matters which
are subject to Rule C.7.4, Rule I and Schedule D. That Committee shall seek the endorsement of the next NEC meeting for any such exercise of its delegated powers.
An NEC member seconded the motion and stated that if we passed this resolution we would have codified and clarified what the situation is already, which is all the motion seeks to do.
Another NEC member stated that this motion just says that disciplinary issues are undertaken by the D+O Committee and not just the Chair. It delegates disciplinary matters to D+O which will then seek endorsement at the next NEC meeting. It just clarifies who exactly is making decisions.
One opinion was that this is premature as there is a planned review of disciplinary procedures. (There will still be a review of the whole of Unison’s internal disciplinary processes).
An officer raised concerns that if all reports go to D+O there may be a potential breach of confidentiality.
Another officer stated there was no legal objection, and the vote was unnecessary as already as per protocol.
For 38, Against 22, Abstentions 3.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham abstained

Resolution 5 Pursuant to Rule A.2, D.2.1, D.2.11.1, D.2.11.2, D.2.11.3 and Rule C.7.4, the NEC rules that Rule C.7.4 gives jurisdiction to the NEC (and the Development and Organisation Committee exercising its delegated powers) the duty to consider the suspension of any member or branch suspended for more than 4 weeks where such suspension has not been considered by the NEC or the Development and Organisation Committee in the last 4 weeks and, as it thinks fit, remove or continue the suspension.
An NEC member stated in seconding the motion there was insufficient lay oversight of the process after a suspension has been approved. It can then go out of view. We don’t want a suspension to become a sanction. The motion asks for a review every 4 weeks.
Another NEC member said this is not about whether people should or should not be suspended, it is about if people are suspended, then should that suspension be reviewed? No one should be on an indefinite suspension without review. There are currently no checks and balances and often cases have dragged on for years. We want a reasonable process – no one would sign up to a process where suspensions were not reviewed. Welfare support to suspended members is non-existent and should be reviewed.
An NEC member stated that they agree there has to be a review of suspensions as there is nowhere to do this currently, but wants it done as part of review.
There was a proposal that the decision be deferred until after D+O review. A vote was taken, 26 for deferring, 33 against so a vote was taken on this motion.
For 36, Against 26, Abstentions 0.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham voted against

Resolution 6 Pursuant to Rules C.2.4, C.7.1.1, D.2.1 and D.2.2.4, the NEC directs that any member holding elected office within the Union or holding an elected seat on a Committee of the Union who is dismissed by their employer shall, on notifying the General Secretary within one month of such dismissal, continue to be a member of the union from the date of dismissal until such time as the NEC decides otherwise or the member resigns from the union, and whilst such a member shall be entitled to hold office in the union and, in particular, shall continue to hold every office and sit on every Committee in the union to which they have been elected or appointed for the remainder of the term of such office or seat, unless and until the NEC decides otherwise or the member resigns from such office or seat.
An NEC member seconded the resolution: We are a union which supports its activists should they go through a dismissal process. We want elected union officers and committee members to know this. We will need to communicate this new process to activists so they both understand the process and know that as a union, we have their back – particularly where they may be victimised by their employer. If a dismissal turns out to be fair, their membership can be terminated as normal. This motion puts a process around the rules which are already in place which allow the NEC to continue membership of dismissed members as it wishes. Any member who is dismissed, can write and ask for their membership to be continued, this would then be reviewed at the next NEC meeting and the NEC will make the decision.
Mark Wareham spoke and said that he opposed it because it was poorly worded and in his opinion contradicts existing rules. He said that the proposal seems to want to create a new right for activists dismissed from employment to retain full membership without limitation, when this is already covered by the unemployed membership category for up to two years. He also said that in his view the proposal sought to flip existing rule on its head by saying that members dismissed from employment, for any reason, could retain union office unless the NEC decided otherwise, when existing rule says that such members are unable to hold office unless and until the NEC decides otherwise.
Another NEC member said that the motion should explicitly refer to those reps victimised as trade unionists.
Another point made against the motion was that it could be used by union reps who are sexist or racist. The response to this was that if allegations are made of racist, sexist, violent or other unacceptable behaviour, then normal disciplinary process would be followed.
An officer stated that our reps are elected by AGM, if dismissed by employer the branch decides how to fill the vacancy. They would be unemployed, and should not represent people in a workplace that they do not work in.
For 35, Against 26, Abstentions 1.
Becky Brookman and Jess Powell voted for; Mark Wareham voted against

The Vice-President thanked all for contributing and voting and asked the legal department to instruct Lord Hendy QC, the UK’s leading QC on Trade union law, to advise in writing on the 6 motions. If anything was found to be unconstitutional, motions could be nullified.
An Officer stated any instruction issued to staff based upon an unlawful resolution is not a legitimate instruction. The member of staff can decide not to comply without any disciplinary sanction. The Vice-Presidents agreed with this proposition but re-stated their view that the motions passed were lawful.

General Secretary: Christina McAnea Report
Christina McAnea relayed that we had been trying to get YES votes in various pay ballots. A good result at the University of Dundee against detrimental changes to their pension scheme. Difficulty of getting greater than 50% turnout in consultative and statutory ballots was referred to. We have been looking at what do we need to be doing to improve turnout in ballots.
Black History Month – a lot of work is underway, a priority for us in terms of the comms sent to members.
Health Conference in September. This was thought to go very well. Sadly, we have lost Tam Waterson of UNISON Scotland who died, a big loss to the union.
Key focus of the next period will be what we do on Climate Change. There is COP26 at the start of November. Branches are encouraged to do something during COP26 and ensure a big Trade Union presence on protests. There will be regional protests.
The Chair of PDCC (Policy, Developments and Campaigns Committee NEC committee) Tony Wright read out a statement on COP26:
‘UNISON NEC fully supports the call for a UK trade union mobilisation to join the Day of Action for Climate Justice on the 6th November 2021 in Glasgow and other UK key cities and regions. UNISON was proudly one of the first trade unions to support the work of the COP26 Coalition. UNISON will work side by side with the Coalition to mobilise our members and to get workers voices heard so that governments hear loudly and clearly our demand for a just transition and public ownership to deliver a fair and just Climate Emergency response in solidarity with the Global South’.
The Chair of Finance Dan Sartin raised the Liverpool Conference Centre decision to hold an Arms Fair there that has led to calls to boycott of the venue and discussions were starting to explore finding alternative venues. Disabled members conference will go ahead because it is imminent, but we will look at the branch and financial impact of not using the Liverpool conference centre and whether it has broken the ethical supplier policy. The General Secretary has been asked by the Finance Committee to intervene with the Centre to make it clear that we will stop using it asap if they do not change course. Dan, as the Chair of the Finance Committee, was due to get a report from officers by the end of the week.
Labour Party Conference – An NEC member raised that many NEC members have been contacted by members complaining about UNISON’s vote on Labour Party rule changes, particularly the process for electing the leader, whereby they will now need 20% of Labour MPs to get on the ballot paper. Lots of Labour policies under the Starmer leadership are no longer UNISON policies, the delegate felt. The response given by an Assistant General Secretary was that the full delegation had a discussion and voted to support the package. A full report will go to the National Labour Link Committee.
A question was raised about the makeup of the Branch Resources Review (BRR) implementation team. It now has only three Regional Convenors on it, and not all twelve Convenors as representation. A request was made by one NEC delegate that all twelve Regions are represented. The Presidential team had received the correspondence from the delegate and has looked at the make-up of the team. We cannot meet everyone’s demands, but the BRR will be a regular standing item on the NEC agenda, so progress can be tracked.
The meeting ended at 4pm. The next NEC meeting will be held on the 1st December 2021.

At the time of the NEC meeting, a junior QC commissioned by officers, stipulated only 2 resolutions were within rule. The NEC Presidential team commissioned their own QC legal advice at no cost to the union from Lord Hendy QC, the acknowledged pre-eminent expert on trade union law in the UK.
He found all 6 motions that the NEC passed to be entirely lawful. Further senior QC advice sought by the union concurred at least 4 resolutions were within rule, with further exploration and possibilities on the other 2.
Positive discussions are now taking place with the General Secretary and the Presidential team on how the situation can be moved forward, with a commitment to produce a joint statement.
Your South-West NEC Representatives

Jess Powell Mark Wareham Becky Brookman
Reserved Seat Male Seat Female Seat
j.powell@unison.co.uk m.wareham@unison.co.uk b.brookman@unison.co.uk