Activating Our Members

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2003

Conference notes that UNISON Rules provide for a lesbian and gay (L&G) group in every branch but, after ten years, there are still no groups in most branches. Rather what has emerged is a varied picture which includes:

1. branch Groups;

2. multi-branch groups on various models;

3. informal networks often led and organised by a member who is a branch activist in her/his individual capacity;

4. employer-led groups in which UNISON members take part and which may have links, at least informally, with the UNISON branch;

5. community based groups, sometimes under the auspices of the local strategic partnership or another agency, and with UNISON members taking part.

Besides those, there are many L&G members who are stewards and branch activists and who take part in UNISON L&G self-organisation at regional or national level.

UNISON will continue to promote branch level L&G self-organisation in line with the rule book and as an integral feature of branch life and union recruiting and organising.

But it must not take a formulaic approach which may isolate or alienate members or which leaves sometimes tiny branch groups to struggle.

This Conference believes there is a need for a regular, cheaply and simply produced bulletin to which any UNISON member may subscribe free of charge by e-mail or by post.

The aim of the bulletin should be to stimulate local activity by individuals and small groups. Its content should be closely related to the National Lesbian and Gay Committee’s (NLGC) action plan and it should include:

A. news in brief;

B. notice of forthcoming events, deadlines etc;

C. current campaigns including actions and resources;

D. signposts to other organisations and activities;

E. opportunities for feedback.

Its content needs to be balanced between matters specific and/or internal to UNISON and those which individual UNISON members can take into other forums. This self-organised group needs to reach beyond the narrow layer of members who take part at this Conference and at regional groups. Not only do our members deserve their union’s backing and interest, they are also its most valuable resource.

Conference instructs the NLGC to produce such a bulletin.