LGBT conference pledges to build the union
(17/11/12) "Recruiting and organising are the lifeblood of our union." So stressed Jackie Lewis as UNISON's LGBT conference met in Brighton today.
She was moving part of the annual report, before delegates discussed exactly that - a series of debates that climaxed with the announcement of the winners of this year's LGBT recruitment awards.
"We need to organise as never before," said Jenny Harvey, as delegates agreed that retired members had a valuable role to play in the union's work.
"When our members retire, they only retire from the workplace and not from the movement," noted Ms Harvey.
Mark Kelly for the national committee said the importance of using social media in organising and recruitment, but he stressed "let's not let new media end natural communication - talking to someone is still best."
There were plenty of ideas in a raft of motions in the morning session, and the afternoon began with a rousing speech from assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie.
He reminded delegates that "somebody has to give hope - and who's left to give hope? Us. We are the ones we've been waiting for."
Conference also debated a number of motions on trans issues, including tackling transphobia.
And in advance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, delegates took time to remember the victims of transphobic violence, together with members of the union's LGBT group who have died in the last 12 months.
Earlier, president Chris Tansley had told the hall: "Congratulate yourselves - there's no other union, apart from UNISON, that can bring LGBT members together in these sorts of numbers and with this sense of purpose."
He also reminded everyone of the importance of campaigning for the living wage, noting that "it's not a luxury - it's what people need to get by."
Conference also rose to a speech from Michael Cashman MEP who, reminding them of Section 28, noted that "Shakespeare was right: the evil that men do lives on."
The ideas of that piece of 1980s Conservative legislation are now "being picked up by countries like Latvia and Lithuania; now being proposed in the Ukraine and it's law in Moscow."
And he told them that LGBT equality could never be won at the expense of any other group.
"You cannot buy off one group at the expense of another."
In response to events in the Middle East, conference unanimously voted that this Year's bucket collection would go to Medical Aid for Palestinians.