The Annual Conference of Solidarity took place in central London on 14th March 2015.
All Union members are entitled to come to the Annual Meeting, speak and propose motions.
Delegates first received a report from the General Secretary, Patrick Harrington. He said that the past year had been one of "business as usual" with the Union representing members at scores of disciplinary and grievance meetings; representing members involved in redundancy situations and taking some cases to tribunal. He also told members that in the past year he had obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Employment Law and another Executive member, his wife Michelle, had obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Rights Law.
Our General Secretary pointed out that the Union had not been publicly involved in any high-profile human rights cases in the past year but we remained committed to defending these principles and that one case was yet to be heard - that of the teacher Reverend West. Reverend West is due to appear before a professional panel because of comments he made during a class on the Crusades which were seen by some as "Islamophobic". He is being represented by the General Secretary. Pat Harrington also pointed out that the Union is operating in a changed environment with the introduction of employment fees, a greater role for ACAS and settlement before hearings has altered the way we provide our services.
An informative and inspirational address was given by Executive Committee member Graham Williamson on where the Union is today and looking at options for the future. He presented case studies of the "discount" unions on the Continent and this was followed by a question and answer session and general discussion on lessons for Solidarity. Some of the ideas floated at this conference will shape the future growth of Solidarity in the coming months.
The Conference unanimously approved two motions; one in favour of the living wage and another launching a Workers' Charter.
The text of the motions passed is below:
This conference calls on Solidarity to back calls from the Church of England and the TUC for a living wage. It is truly time to give Britain a pay rise. The goal of this must be to replace the current state subsidies for bad employers paid out in tax credits and housing benefit with earnings; thus displacing the burden of low pay from the public to the private purse.
Proposed by David Kerr. Seconded by Glen Nicklasson. Passed unanimously.
This conference recognises that financial inequality is a growing problem in the UK. Wages have fallen way behind prices and job insecurity and low pay is widespread. The rights of trade unions and employees have been under attack. Solidarity believes that all Parties and Candidates in the forthcoming general election should commit to taking action to increase wages and protect the rights of workers. Conference proposes that the Union publish a Workers' Charter which we invite Candidates and Parties to sign-up to. The text of the Charter is given below:
“I the undersigned as a Candidate in the 2015 UK general election pledge support for the Workers' Charter and measures.
- Raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage.
- Ending the public sector wage freeze.
- Ending the abuse of zero-hour contracts.
- Strictly enforcing existing labour laws.
- Introducing and enforcing pay ratios.
- Banning unpaid internships and workfare.
- Increasing worker participation in companies.
- Providing incentives to worker co-operatives.
- Abolishing fees in Employment Tribunals.
- Extending 'anti-harassment' legislation to cover all workers regardless of motive.”
Proposed by Patrick Harrington. Seconded by Graham Williamson. Passed unanimously.
Following the adoption by Conference of the Workers Charter the Union will start educating the public on the issues contained in it and inviting all General Election candidates to commit to it.
The keynote address was given by the Union President, David Kerr (pictured) and is available on both the Union Facebook page and Website.