Groups have been told to hold off booking hotels for this year’s conference. Presumably this is because the union is working out, in the face of the withdrawal of special leave and facility time for union activities such as attendance to conferences, what it should do. We say presumably, as with so much in the union, activists are not being told what is happening.
It was obvious since the government announced its review of facility time last year that the national conference 2013 and the group conferences this year would not be covered by special leave/facility time. Indeed it was obvious that the government would adhere strictly to the ACAS code of practice and so exclude all union activities, as opposed to union duties, from special leave etc.
Given this was so obvious you would have thought that the leadership would have planned ahead; it would appear though that our leadership did not and activists are being given no real steer as what to do in the groups concerning facility time.
It is clear that the union will not legally challenge the government concerning facility time even though the government has lumped H&S, ULR and facility time together and capped this all at 0.1% of the pay bill. This must mean that even though H&S and ULR work is legally protected it will be restricted or in some instances stopped by the cap. Surely this must be challengeable?
Nor does the union seem to be campaigning for a change in the ACAS code of practice so that paid time off is given for union activities. It should be seeking such changes via the TUC and also calling upon the Labour Party to revoke facility time cuts if it were to form the next government.
As for the national conference and group conferences, they should go ahead as planned and activists asked to take annual leave. Of course ADC 2014 may have to be taken over a Bank Holiday, in a different location to Brighton and on a different representational basis i.e. fewer delegates per branch but we have to show the government that the union continues and will continue.