This is a linked series of posts about my experiences of National Delegate Conference 2010. Why a linked series? Well – I want to keep them bite-sized both for the benefit of the reader and so that I can actually get them out on a senisble schedule.
I’ve never been to conference before…
Let me say straight from the off – I was a new delegate to conference. The NDC has fallen badly for me every year since I’ve been involved in UNISON at YSJ (and goodness, it’s been a while now) – either clashing with a family holiday or a work commitment or something of that kin. This year, however, we got the paperwork and had our usual meeting to decide who would go and, to my surprise, it was a set of dates I could make. As a result I was straight in there – keen to see what I was missing.
Early paperwork, regional meetings etc…
Conference starts (even for those of us not deeply involved in preparing venues etc) a long time before delegates start turning up. Several months beforehand branches send in motions and rule ammendments for consideration by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC). They have a responsibility to check that the motions and ammendments are within the scope of the rules and to advise branches why any that are in breach are turned away.
Once the deadline for submissions is reached, SOC advise regional offices of the list of motions and ammendments and the task of prioritising motions and rules starts. Basically this is done by regions, advised by branches, and the regional priority lists are returned to SOC to advise them in drawing up a starting priority.
Whilst this is going on a draft Agenda, listing the motions and ammendments is distributed to branch activists so that branches can discuss them and instruct their delegates how to vote.
As the event, itself, approaches – more paperwork is sent to delegates – including ID badges (your need them to get into the venue), conference guides and a finalised list of motions. Regional offices also arrange events to help first time delegates settle into the flow of things. I can’t stress this enough if you can – go along to one of these events. You lose a morning or afternoon but it will save you a lot of confusion and wasted time and effort later on. It really is a great orientation and will eplain how the conference runs.