I spent most of last week in the Brighton Centre.  They were long days lasting from 9 in the morning until 5.30 in the evening, with only an hour for lunch. At the main conference you don’t even get a few minutes break for a cup of tea in the morning. Most conference sessions were followed immediately by fringe meetings which lasted between 1 to 1.5 hours. One evening we even had two fringe meetings back to back, so we didn’t finish until 9 o’clock. Then of course we had to find time to fit in eating! Well I did, I am not sure everyone bothered ;-)

The journey on the Sunday was nice and leisurely.  My colleagues from Cosford kindly gave me a lift so that I could be arrive in plenty of time to get to my Standing Orders Committee meeting.  The hotel tried their best to scupper this plan.  Trying to book in was a bit like booking in at ‘Fawlty Towers’.  The rooms weren’t ready and there didn’t seem to be any sort of system to allocate rooms in the order that people arrived.

The Brighton Centre

The MoD Group conference although formal is not quite so formal as the main PCS conference.  This year more motions than usual initiated a debate, which meant that we had to keep shuffling the agenda to make sure that everything got included for discussion.  We managed it but I think we will  have to look at how we schedule the agenda next year and make some changes.

Some of the key issues that were debated:

  • First Class Travel:
    One of the motions called for a review on first class travel for GEC members.  The motion was heavily debated with most people speaking against the motion.  Delegates said that we should not be trying to get lesser terms and conditions for our members.  They also said that first class travel was needed so that they members could work whilst traveling.  The counter argument to that was, that due to all the recent security breaches no-one should be working whilst traveling by train.  After the heated debate the motion was lost with most people voting against it.
  • Occupational Health Adviser:
    Another issue that has caused members a lot of concern is that Occupational Health Advisors conduct staff sickness assessments over the telephone with no option for a full examination by a health advisor or GP.  One of the motions called for the GEC to negotiate with the MoD and the Occupational Health Advisor with a view to changing this practice.  The motion was debated fully and carried.
  • Engaging with the Media:
    The Department questioning PCS reps’ role in speaking to the media was another issue debated by conference.  The motion called for all GEC members to undertake formal training in dealing with the media.  This would give them the skills needed to support branch representatives who communicate with the media.  This motion was narrowly won with 44 in favour and 36 against.
  • Privatisation:
    Privatisation is a long-running concern for those working within the public sector.   One of the conference motions instructed the MoD’s GEC to step up anti-privatisation campaigning and to fully engage with the ‘Public Service Not Private Profit’ campaign, which is a national PCS campaign.  Another motion dealt with the proposal to contract out Britain’s strategic weapons systems to private industry.  Both these motions were carried.

Many more issues including personnel, learning & training, PCS organisation, campaigning, equality & diversity, environment, industrial relations and communications were discussed.  All in all, it was a very lively conference and there are lots of actions to take forward and report to the MoD Group conference in 2010.

Postings on the PCS annual conference and the fringe meetings to follow…

13 Comments CherryPie on May 25th 2009

13 Responses to “MoD Group Conference”

  1. sally says:

    never been to brighton ..yet… but emily starts uni there in september :-)

  2. mutley says:

    Did you get a chance to visit the nudist beach at all?

  3. ubermouth says:

    Brighton is lovely but I think the conference would have put a damper on it for me. :)

  4. jameshigham says:

    Good to see your comments working again – it’s been a frustrating time getting those 501s. Brighton’s a nice place to have been.

    • CherryPie says:

      Sorry about those, they were entirely my fault. I didn’t realise what I had done until I got back from the conference. After the first couple of days, the weather was lovely too.

  5. Glad too that the commetns are up! I hope you enjoyed the conference

    • CherryPie says:

      I think I need to do a confession post into my stupidity that stopped everyone accessing my site.

      The conference was inspiring, you should try it out if you can :-)

  6. Interesting, Cherie. Loved the description of the “Fawlty Towers” welcome. I can see both sides of the argument about first class travel. Btw, I am getting an “Error 404″ message when I try to comment on your May 24th flower pictures.