Not just pay
With all the focus on the pay debate yesterday it would be easy to forget that other important issues are also on the agenda here.
Yesterday we agreed motions pledging to raise the profile of the Knowledge and Skills Framework and extend the benefits of training and support to those members working for private contractors. We also agreed to fight against both unsafe staffing levels and down grading like that currently hanging over the heads of our members in Derby hospitals.
Two motions were passed on the conduct of last year's pay ballot. Although the SGE asked them not to, delegates agreed to motions from Yorkshire Ambulance Branch and the Eastern Region which declared that "in general branches should always have the right to inform members of their own policy on all issues" and that "the health national officers should not have intervened [by telling branches they could not make local recommendations] as it changed the interpretation of the democracy guidelines applied to branches in the health sector".
Clearly the ultimate decision on this issue will have to be taken by national delegate conference in two months' time. But health conference clearly indicated branches are determined to defend their democratic rights and that can only be a good thing.
For this year, we on the SGE have already received an assurance from Mike Jackson that the situation this year will be that branches, regions and sectors will be free to debate and agree local policies to put recommendations to their members. So the ground is clear for a widespread branch-based campaign to reject the three year pay offer.
This morning we will have debates, among others, on admin and clerical workers, and the rights of workers employed by agencies - both crucial areas for us to organise if we're to build the union in the future.