I will…..

Further to the earlier analysis of the manifesto pledges of Padraig / Patrick Mulholland here, in the interest of fairness and balance, is an analysis of the manifesto pledges of the other contender for election to the post of General Secretary, Alison Millar.

Alison will

“Bring absolute commitment, hard work, vast negotiating experience and determination to the post”. 

Good stuff. However, like Padraig / Patrick’s manifesto pledge these qualities are a basic requirement for the job, not a “plus”. Alison does appear to have an edge over Padraig / Patrick in that she appears to have a greater and broader experience of negotiation.

“Ensure protection of jobs, terms and conditions and pensions”.

An admirable statement but again it’s not quite clear how Alison would “ensure” any of these things. Certainly she could pledge to continue to fight for these things but to ensure them, in the current climate? Not so sure on that one without further analysis of her proposed means to deliver.

“Fight for decent pay rises”.

Again, strong on rhetoric but this is a fundamental tenet of the role of a senior negotiating union official. Certainly at the level of General Secretary. Alison has considerable negotiating experience and would be in a stronger position to negotiate pay deals than Padraig / Patrick who by his own pledge to donate additional monies paid to him above and beyond his current (unknown) salary if he wins the election has, it would appear, undermined his credibility and ability to negotiate pay rises for members.

“Defend public services and continue the fight against austerity”.

As would be expected. Some further detail on the “how” would be of help.

“Fight against privatisation and outsourcing”.

As above.

“Ensure members’ subscriptions are protected and only used for the benefit of members”.

Not entirely sure what is meant by this. Is she referring to the costs of legal advice or political donations from membership funds (from subscriptions)? Perhaps someone will seek some clarity at one of the Hustings?

“Ensure members’ issues including personal representation and real workplace issues come first and foremost”.

Again this is something that one would expect from a union. Not quite sure why this is part of a manifesto. It is interesting, and confusing, that Alison refers to “real workplace issues”. What does she mean by that?

“Ensure that representatives have access to first class training and development to enable them to deal with members’ issues and represent and negotiate with employers”.(?)

On the face of it this seems to suggest that representatives have not been receiving “first class training and development”. If the commitment is to address that then surely this is a benefit to reps and members alike.

“Defend facility time and trade union secondment”.

These are legal entitlements which can only be repealed by Parliament / the Assembly. Despite the progress of the Trade Union Bill in the UK the Minister responsible for these issues here in NI has said he will not implement the Trade Union Bill here in Northern Ireland. Aside from that defending these things is more an instinctive issue that goes with the role than a manifesto pledge.

“Challenge employers on behalf of members via the Courts and Tribunals when necessary”.

“When necessary” is the key to this pledge. Currently it is the case that NIPSA will only go to court or a tribunal on a matter concerning members where there is a considerably more than 50% chance that any such action will result in a win. Is Alison now stating that these actions will be carried out more frequently and not constrained by the win potential? Some clarity would be appreciated. Perhaps this is another for the hustings.

“Be a voice for ALL members – independent of political interference”.

This is something of a hot potato, the elephant in the room. Alison is clearly referencing the political influence which a certain outside political party might have on her opponent in this election. Padraig / Patrick Mulholland is a proud member of the Socialist Party and clearly there are concerns that this might colour his opinion and influence his thinking on certain things. Whilst Alison states that she is “independent of political interference” there are those who would question the proximity of the “NIPSA Unity” grouping to her campaign. Admittedly NIPSA Unity did not field a candidate for this election (why?) but their seemingly collective and open support for Alison is leading some to question that independence. Again some clarity would be useful and perhaps this is one for the hustings also.

“Challenge and lobby all political representatives in the interests of ALL members and their families”.

Again, it is a given that this would be an expected role of the General Secretary.

“Engage with the wider Trade Union Movement via ICTU to build a stronger, united trade union movement to fight against the wider austerity agenda”.

Seems sensible enough. It is, however, lacking in substance. How does Alison propose we collectively do this? Civil disobedience? How will NIPSA, for example, deal with its members who ultimately will be responsible for the delivery and implementation of many of the cuts and, almost exclusively, the implementation of the inevitable welfare reforms?

“Campaign for a just society based on  first class, fully funded public services”.

See above.

“Be a decisive leader”.

Again this is to be expected of anyone holding the position of General Secretary. Fortunately for Alison she has proved herself capable in that regard when she, in her current capacity of Deputy General Secretary, has had to conduct negotiations and resolve issues at times when the General Secretary has not been available to do so.

One surprising omission from Alison’s manifesto pledges is the simple phrase “Continue to…”. It might have made all the difference.

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