Prospect National Conference 2024: Tuesday, 11 June

11 June 2024

Delegates gathered for the final day of Prospect National Conference 2024 at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham on Tuesday, 11 June.


Across the three days of conference business more than 100 motions were debated and voted on; from rule changes and subscriptions to issues of public policy and international affairs.

The 300-plus delegates in attendance heard speeches from Mike Clancy, Prospect General Secretary, Paul Nowak, TUC General Secretary and there was a lively panel debate with guest speakers on ensuring a future for unions in the private sector.

Prospect National Conference 2024: Monday, 10 June

Prospect National Conference 2024: Sunday, 9 June

Securing change is within our grasp, TUC’s Paul Nowak tells National Conference

Mike Clancy speech to Prospect conference: we must revive trade unionism in the private sector

Although the final day had a shorter agenda, Conference still considered more than two dozen motions. Here’s a summary of the day’s debates.

Organisation, recruitment and resources

Recruitment incentives

Nicholas Clarke (BT Networks & Digital Branch) successfully moved a motion calling on the NEC to consider improving the incentives awarded for member recruitment to encourage greater activity in growing membership across the union all year round.

“The need to recruit members, especially young members is urgent. I’m not the first to come up here and say it, but our member recruitment incentives doesn’t reflect this reality,” he told delegates.

“In other Industries, incentives to secure subscriptions are widespread. Take for instance my industry in Broadband, you want to sign up to a new broadband company you get free gifts half-price-offs, we’ll do the free install, we’ll pay your exit penalties. There’s no end to the number of incentives that companies will give to get you on board.”

Young workers

There followed a couple of motions on young workers, both of which were remitted.

William Baguley speaking at National Conference

Will Baguley (AWE), attending his first Prospect National Conference, moved a motion calling for a new system of a reduced subscription fee in order to attract early career professionals or those in apprenticeship schemes.

However, Toby James responding for the NEC, said that while there was a lot of sympathy with the spirit of the motion, and that the NEC was happy to commit to actively attracting membership from early careers professionals, introducing a new subscription tier ran counter to ongoing efforts to simplify and harmonise subscriptions across the union.

For this reason, the NEC asked for remittal, and the delegates subsequently voted as such.

A motion from UKAEA branch called for the dissolution of the existing Young Workers’ Committee, which is currently a sub-committee, in order to establish a more formalised Young Workers’ Committee that could have greater weight across the union.

However, the NEC argued that, as worded, the motion could have unintended consequences on the committee and sub-committee structure, and actually reduce the visibility and voice of young workers across Prospect. Delegates agreed and voted to remit.

Strike fund

Sophie Gribben (UKAEA branch) moved a motion calling on the NEC to develop a procedure enabling branches to set up a strike fund to support staff through periods with no pay and to explore the potential for the creation of a centralised strike fund that branches could opt-in to by paying a surcharge on subscriptions.

Sophie Gribben speaking at National Conference 2024

“We’ve got more and more industrial action happening… but also we’re in an increasing cost-of living-crisis, which means the effects of going on strike are more harshly felt,” said Sophie.

“It’s a noble thing to forego pay for better conditions, but we shouldn’t be martyring ourselves. Without strike funds, strikes become self-selecting and have no hope of reaching majority participation, especially for sustained action. What about young workers precariously renting? The single parent with a baby to feed? The disabled worker with no savings?”

The motion was opposed by the NEC and, speaking on its behalf, Mike Clancy mentioned the running costs it would involve, administrative burdens and logistical and fairness concerns that would need to be strictly overseen at local branch levels.

Moreover, he added:

“It’s not going to be a surprise to you that employers, when there is a strike fund, can sometimes seek to deplete the union’s resources by extending the strike issues way beyond the point when they could have been solved.

“Finally, and it is touched upon in the moving of the motion, while there is an argument for strike pay, in some respects it removes the credibility of the strike action where the sacrifice that members undertake to take the action… is removed by the fact that the employer, the media, and others can simply say, ‘You’re only on strike because your union is paying you.’”

There were many contributions from the floor on this debate, with delegates passionately speaking for and against the merits of establishing a strike fund. A motion from the floor to remit was lost, and subsequently, a majority of delegates carried the motion.

Indicative ballots

A motion from Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Branch called for the introduction of a new policy of indicative ballots before formally ending an industrial action dispute.

The motion was opposed by the NEC, who did acknowledge there was a particular set of circumstances in the civil services and public sector dispute last year, which gave rise to the motion: there was no national collective bargaining unit that covered all the branches involved.

It was argued from the floor that the motion, while it had value, could detract from the power of local branches and reps to resolve disputes, and delegates voted to remit.

Phil Sansom (North West Freelance) called for Prospect offer members legal protections from strategic lawsuits against public participation, also known as SLAPP.

Frances Cusack speaking at National Conference 2024

In response, Prospect’s head of legal and General Counsel, Frances Cusack, said:

“The use of strategic lawsuits against public participation, which seek to prevent individuals from criticising, or exposing corrupt practices, are pernicious, intimidatory and threatening. Prospect is concerned by any action, which is taken to silence and deter members from undertaking important work highlighting matters of public interests.”

However, the scope of the motion was unclear, and Cusack continued: “SLAPP cases often require specialist counsel and costs can be considerable. Therefore, we ask conference to remit the motion, such that the support offered is subject to our established merit-based approach.”

Delegates concurred, and the motion was remitted.


Delegates at National Conference voted to affiliate with the Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala, following a motion moved by Sean Mills (National Trust).

Last year, Prospect members attended the Durham Miners’ Gala under the Prospect banner for the first time.

Pay and Employment

Work-life balance

Two motions from the Environment Agency branch, which were supported by the NEC, were both carried.

The first, called to include improving parental policies in any discussion or negotiations about pay, benefits and employment, in order to help create family-friendly policies at work.

The second, asked for the development of guidance on best practice, and to encourage open dialogue and collaboration between employers and employees on workplace attendance to allow workers achieve a better work-life balance.

Promoting progression

Moving her motion, Gillian Bennington (Environment Agency) said:

“We are seeing a worrying trend of pay being coupled with transformation too often across the public and private sectors. We see employers only offering increases in pay by selling our hard-won terms and conditions, forcing part-time working, or even worse, redundancies.

“We believe negotiations on pay should be based on roles and responsibilities alongside skills, knowledge and experience.”

The motion called for decoupling changes in terms and conditions from pay negotiations and for a campaign for promoting progression based on skills, knowledge and experience.

The NEC supported the motion as well, and it was carried by Conference.

Four day working week

An instruction for the NEC to campaign for the four day working week, and call on members’ employers to implement four day working week trials, was the subject of a motion moved by Ruben Douglas (Efra).

Ruben Douglas speaking at National Conference 2024

“Our bodies are exhausted from stress and overwork, our shared institutions are exhausted from dogged enforcement of a failed neoliberal ideology, and the very planetary systems on which all human life depends are exhausted from the limitless demands of capital accumulation,” Ruben said.

“We can, we must find breath to overcome this exhaustion. Breath to regroup, breath to resist, breath to restore and renew our society. A 32-hour working week with no loss of pay is the breath we need.”

In reponse, Eamonn Guilfoyle, for the NEC, called for remittal, although he acknowledged it was an idea that had ‘captured the imagination of many members of the NEC.’

However, he added that local branches should be able to make the decision if it was a route they wanted to explore, rather than making it a national policy.

“Remittal is not rejection. There are people on the NEC licking their lips at this, we will support it, we will deliver the tools, we will deliver the data, we will deliver the strength for any branch that wishes to push this.

“All I ask is that a campaign should be defined by the characteristics and wants of the branches themselves, and not to make this a national position.”

Yet, Conference rejected the motion for remittal and, after a lively debate with speakers for and against the proposition, the original motion for a four day working week was carried.