Here is a brief report from the Special executive Meeting that took place today, 24th April. These are my own notes and do not claim to represent the views of the union or to act as minutes of the meeting.
Should anyone find any errors, or disagree with any of the accuracy of what is below, please do email me.
1 General Secretary election result
The returning officer's report was distributed and the chair asked whether three were any questions on the report. There were none.
Len came in briefly, stating he was 'privileged and humbled' that the membership had refreshed his mandate. He mentioned there was tremendous work facing us and that he hoped he could meet the aspirations of all Unite members.
2 Update on Transport Salaried Staff's Association (TSSA) talks
Len M confirmed he had given the green light to talks with TSSA as he sees it as an industrially attractive prospect for UNITE. He said UNITE has existing members in Transport for London, Network Rail and the underground. If it goes ahead, we would be able to claim ourselves as a rail union, and the present thinking is that TSSA would form the core of a new rail group within Unite.
Discussions have started now in order that TSSA has something to report at its May annual conference.
Questions from the floor asked about the possible role of the TSSA General Secretary, why had talks with the Community broken down, how many staff does TSSA employ and what about the future relationship with the RMT?
Nothing concrete was said about the role of the TSSA GS or staff, as that is the subject of the talks. Len said he saw this move as strengthening our relationship with RMT. One of the Passenger EC members from Passenger Transport said they believed that any previous problems regarding the RMT were no longer an issue.
This item will come back to the June EC.
3 TUC and the General Strike motion
A third item was discussed, which was the latest discussion re: Motion 5, which was to consider the practicality of a general strike. Len described our approach as 'mature' and explained that the submission from our union to the TUC had come out of the discussion that took place at the Executive last year.
Len said the term to be used was perhaps 'mass industrial action' rather than 'general strike'. He said it was one weapon in our armoury, but no the end in itself. He explained that there were diametrically opposing views on the TUC.
He also returned to the issue of the legality of a general strike. Following legal advice, it seems such a political strike would in fact be legal in European law. It may be that it was called a 'mass rally' rather than industrial action, and this might mean people took leave or called in sick. Also, having a specific focus, perhaps national action to 'Defend the NHS'. However, whatever way it might be approached, he then went on to say the government, media, etc would condemn it and call it illegal anyway. Len stated that to get hung up on the legality of the action would be the wrong route to go down.
Len said that despite differences of opinion on this issue amongst the unions of the TUC, there are also those unions keen to further the issue, the so called 'Coalition of the willing'. It was not said exactly who might comprise the CotW are or what they might consider.
He mentioned that the TUC needed a Road map through to the next election, although that did not mean waiting til the next election. He also said we should perhaps be more specific about our own road map. He mentioned the local government pay claim, and again would urge the sector to campaign for strike action. we also have an agreement with the PCS and there may be possibilities of coordinated action there.
He stated the Labour Party was disappointing in its opposition and that people are seeing the TUs as the opposition. he described local campaigns to defend hospitals such as we have seen in parts of London and Mid-Staffs as 'staggering'.
Finally he said we should be wary of making claims on platforms and then having them come back and hit you in the face, which I took to be a warning against proclamations of naming the day for such a strike, and then finding yourself in a position of not being able to translate that into reality. He also said we need to go out and campaign around the issue of the general strike.
Andrew Murray came in to mention two events we would be involved in:
22nd June: the People's Assembly
6th July: anniversary of birth of the NHS
This issue is to return to the June EC.