One of the highlights of conference 2009: leading British director, John Akomfrah, receives honorary membership from general secretary, Gerry Morrissey.
25 April 2009
Sharon Elliott, Communications Officer, gives a rundown of the key events and decisions from conference 2009. A fuller report will appear in the May issue of Stage, Screen and Radio.
As representatives attending BECTU's annual meeting arrived in Bournemouth on 24 April, old friends were reunited and an enthusiastic welcome was extended to new delegates.
Trade group conferences for the Arts and Entertainment, BBC and IB Divisions, provided an opportunity for delegates to connect on familiar territory.
However, the event which brought the majority of delegates together yesterday was the debate on the BBC's plans for its new operation at Salford Quays, part of Media City UK.
The debate, organised by the BBC Division, drew interest from all parts of BECTU - a sure sign of the importance which the whole union attaches to the future of the BBC.
Delegates from the BBC, independent broadcasting, and the production divisions (home to the majority of the unions freelances) seized the opportunity to hear directly from Peter Salmon, director-designate of BBC North, and Ken Lee, Head of HR, about their plans for BBC North, both in terms of people and editorial vision.
Training, equality, new ways of working and the critical 'should I stay or should I go question' are the vital issues for affected BECTU members in the weeks and months ahead.
Peter Salmon and Ken Lee's willingness to meet with BECTU members at the union's conference was much appreciated. This important exchange will help, we hope, to create a positive climate for the detailed talks still to come.
Today, 25 April, was the day for more formal business - the once a year opportunity for delegates to bring their own policy concerns to a pan-union audience and to receive essential updates from the National Executive Committee (NEC). The NEC runs the union in between conferences on behalf of the membership.
Propositions tabled by branches this year are listed below, together with an indication of how they fared in debate. Please note:
- C = motion carried by a majority vote in favour and accepted as union policy.
- W = motion withdrawn by the proposing branch (often following a request or advice from the NEC in light of changed circumstances).
- R = motion remitted by the proposing branch (and referred to the NEC for further consideration).
- L = motion lost as a result of a majority vote against conference delegates.
P1 - Voting via the website (R)
Motion seeking the introduction of online voting in union ballots.
P2 - Ethical sourcing (C)
Motion seeking a policy to secure fair wages and safe employment conditions for workers producing BECTU=branded goods.
P3 - State of the economy (C)
Motion calling for a BECTU campaign in support of a public enquiry into the collapse of the banking sector in concert with other TUC affiliated unions.
P4 - Crewbus (C)
Motion calling for an extension of the service to freelances outside of film and television.
P5 - Victimisation (C)
Motion calling for more action in support of a collective approach to issues affecting the union's freelances members to counter victimisation.
P6 - Personal Accident Insurance (C)
Motion calling on the NEC to investigate the possibility of offering personal accident insurance as a benefit of union membership.
P7 - Private Health Insurance (L)
Motion calling for publication on the union's website of reports from the union's delegations to other organisations and events.
P9 - BBC Television Centre (C)
Motion for calling for a campaign opposing the planned closure of BBC TV Centre.
P10 - Low pay (C)
Motion calling for the NEC to campaign for a 'living wage' to address low pay affecting the areas covered by BECTU.
P11 - Cross-Party Select Committee (W)
Motion calling for a cross-party select committee to address the conduct of BERR in relation to Employment Agency Standards.
P12 - Health and Safety (R)
Motion calling for a campaign to secure provision of heart defibrillators on every production unit.
P13 - Death Notification (L)
Motion calling for each organiser and branch chair to be informed of the death of a member immediately the union is advised.
P14 - Strike Fund (L)
Motion calling for investigations into the setting up of a strike fund together with methods for subs collection, fund administration and criteria for the distribution of the said funds.
P15 - Fight back against business opposition to trade unions (C)
Motion calling for the compilation of a list of employers hostile to trade unions and to trade union members with encouragement from BECTU to members to boycott such companies.
P16 - Break the link with Labour (L)
Motion calling for BECTU to disaffiliate from the Labour Party.
P17 - Media Workers and the War (L)
Motion calling on BECTU to provide union backing to members who elect to refuse to engage in the propaganda issued by their employers.
Out of time
Regrettably, due to lack of time, the following propositions accepted for debate (AP) were remitted for consideration by the NEC. The NEC will decide on the most appropriate response and will report back to branches:
- AP18 Reclaim our Rights
- AP19 Anti-Union laws
- AP20 Women writers and directors
- AP21 Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
- AP22 Gaza
- AP23 Palestine Solidarity Campaign
- AP24 European Working Time Directive opt-out
- AP25 Bolivia.
The following emergency propositions (EP) were carried:
EP2 - Ford Visteon dispute (C)
Motion calling for BECTU support for the campaign and for the March for Jobs on 16 May being organised by Unite.
EP3 - Breast cancer and nightshifts.(C)
Motion calling for NEC to investigate the linkage of breast cancer with nightshifts and to work with the TUC to build awareness and lobby government.
The following emergency propositions were not debated due to lack of time and like the earlier remitted motions these will be considered by the NEC:
EP1 - Young People and the jobs crisis
Motion calling on BECTU to support the Youth Fight for Jobs Campaign and to support the launch conference on 9 May
EP4 - Conference Timetable
Motion calling on the NEC to review the timetabling of conference to allow for two full days to cover divisional and annual conference business.
Celebration of inspirational achievements
As well as debating motions from branches, receiving the financial report and setting priorities for the year ahead, conference delegates shared their experience through workshops covering the latest developments in employment law, innovation in freelance organising and the benefits of the union's new website.
A fuller report will expand on these elements, to include the Roger Bolton Award for 2009. In addition, John Akomfrah, Ghanain born British director, was one of several leading members to be celebrated with honorary membership this year for their contributions to the union's affairs.