This years AGM took place at a new venue,though it was just over the road on our main site of Shire Hall, numbers were well down on previous years. As the calibre of the speakers was again high the only reasons for the lower than expected turn out were put at the new venue and that the implementation of the cuts had largely been dealth with. Do let the Branch know what stopped you attending, or what would make you attend in the future.
Those who did attend heard a passionate speech from the Council's Labour leader Ashley Walsh. Ashley detailed the disasterous decision taken at the February Budget meeting not to raise Council tax this year, and only to implement the Adult Social Care precept. The blame was firmly at the feet of Tory and Ukip Councillors, for those who attended part, or as I did upto 17.30, the meeting lasted until after 2200 hours! That was certainly a correct assessment of the decision. I heard Tory and Ukip Councillors trading issues to garner support for the budget proposal put forward by the Conservative group, a truly worrying future.
Prior to Ashley speaking, Branch Chair Clare Andrews welcomed everyone and went through the normal business of the AGM. Our finance officer presented the 'budget' for 2016 and answered questions from the floor on spending in last years accounts. It was agreed that a more detailed explanation of the groups the Branch affiliates to and donates money would be provided next year. I then went through my 5 page Branch Secretary Report, highlighting the issues many members are speaking to me about, performance pay and the proliferation of PIP's, rising levels of stress caused by work and the danger of raising this especially if you work in Social Care. And of course the £45 million pounds of savings for this year, and the following 4 years whilst this Government remains in power. Surely this Council will be reduced to a hollow husk by 2020, with our administartive capital being Northampton.
Several members spoke to me afterwards or emailed to say that they found Ashley a good speaker, but several more spoke very highly about our second speaker Prf. Keith Ewing. Keith is a distinguished academic and author of many articles on employment legislation. He co-wrote the Institute of Employment Rights response to the Trade Union Bill and I had asked him to report on this major issue. A major issue not only for Trade Unionist, but for all worker's. The bill may be wrapped up in a TU wrapper, but it's effect crosses all boundaries, so all workers need to unite and fight against this Bill.
Keith's knowledge on this subject was very apparent, without any notes he delivered a 20 minute lecture on the perils this Bill will bring to worker's, and the weakening of Trade Union involvement in areas such as collective bargaining; your hourly rate of pay. It is due to come back to The Commons with a few amendments http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2016/lords-trade-union-bill/ shortly, so we need to be ready to continue our resistance to this Bill.
In Solidarity; Rob Turner