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2004 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
30 July 2004
Carried as Amended

Conference recalls that Resolution 26 of the 2003 UNISON Lesbian and Gay Conference noted that members with manual and part-time jobs and other workers who are low paid are under-represented at UNISON Lesbian and Gay Conference, compared to the proportion of these workers in the union as a whole.

It instructed the NLGC to review previous conference decisions on addressing this under-representation, evaluate ways the union has sought to address fair representation, consult widely and report back to the 2004 conference with a series of annual targets to achieve fair representation for part-time, manual and low paid workers in not more than three years.

Conference notes:

1.The report of the NLGC’s work on this in its Annual Report;

2.That women have also been consistently under-represented at Lesbian and Gay Conference, being well under half of delegates each year despite representing nearly three quarters of UNISON’s membership;

3.That most part-time, manual, low paid UNISON members are women;

4.That many women work part-time in low paid jobs because of their dependent care responsibilities;

5.That the only way to guarantee an improvement in fair representation is to introduce rules on delegations, as urging branches to send balanced delegations has no noticeable impact;

6.That the majority of branch delegations consist of one member only, so to make a difference, the rule would have to apply to sole delegates as well as larger delegations.

Conference believes that more must be done to make not only conference, but all the activities of our self-organised group more accessible and relevant both to women and to part-time, manual and other low paid workers. Attendance at conference largely reflects participation in self-organisation in regions and branches.

Conference does not believe it would be advisable to introduce a rule that required branches who send only one delegate to our conference to send a woman and/or part-time, manual or low-paid worker.

However, Conference notes that:

A.Branch delegations to national delegate conference must be in accordance with guidelines issued by the NEC under rule D.1.4, and that these include specific requirements on fair representation for branches sending 3 or more delegates;

B.Rule Q, as amended at 2004 National Delegate Conference, defines fair representation as being “the broad balance of representation of members of the electorate, taking into account such factors as the balance between part-time and full-time workers, manual and non-manual workers, different occupations, skills, qualifications, responsibilities, race, sexuality, gender identity and disability.

Conference therefore instructs the NLGC to look at whether the guidelines for delegations to our conference should include specific requirements on fair representation for branches sending 3 or more delegates, recognising that this is also of particular importance in the context of becoming an LGBT group.

Conference further instructs the NLGC to continue to address all issues of fair representation in every aspect of its organising work, issuing further advice on good practice to regional and branch groups. Conference calls on branch and regional groups to look again at the way they work and seek ways to involve more women, black, part-time, manual and low paid members.

Conference reminds the National Lesbian and Gay Committee (NLGC) that last year’s resolution included an instruction (which the NLGC unsuccessfully sought to amend) to submit a report including specific proposals and a series of annual targets which will achieve fair representation in these respects over not more than three years. However, this instruction did not appear as a specific “action” either in “Proposed Action on Resolutions of the 11th Conference (12th January 2004) nor in “Action on Conference Resolutions – Update – June 2004”. It was mentioned but its implementation was not discussed in the report, “Fair Representation of Part-time, Manual and Low Paid Workers” submitted to the NLGC’s Organising Sub-committee on 14th May 2004 and there was no mention of it, either, in reply to an enquiry about the content of the relevant section of the NLGC’s annual report. Conference wishes to make clear to the committee that the resolution it wants implemented is the one it actually carried and not the one the NLGC wishes had been carried. Conference therefore re-iterates this instruction.

Conference further instructs the NLGC to make a report to the thirteenth National Lesbian and Gay Conference with the results of:

I.Its investigation of whether all the relevant decisions of earlier conferences have been carried out and its evaluation of the results of doing so; and,

II.Its examination of the structures, requirements, mechanisms and resources which aim to achieve fair representation at this conference for black lesbian and gay members and disabled lesbian and gay members and its consideration whether they are likely to achieve a similar result for lesbian and gay members in manual jobs, part-time jobs and other low paid jobs and any consequent recommendations.

Conference also instructs the NLGC to:

III.Review the methods of consultation it has used this year, evaluate why these led to such a low response and carry out renewed consultation using a variety of appropriate methods;

IV.Continue to involve lesbian and gay members in manual jobs, part-time jobs and other low paid jobs to develop solutions to their under-representation bearing in mind the objective is not only attendance but effective and rewarding participation and impact upon decision and action;

V.Review again how UNISON’s rules on proportionality and fair representation apply to attendance at this conference and, in particular, consider moving from an at-least-half-the-delegation-must-be-women formulation for branch delegations of three or more to the rulebook formulation that the proportion of women and men in the delegation must reflect their proportion in the branch;

VI.Ensure that OUT IN UNISON continues to include material of specific relevance to lesbian and gay members in manual jobs, part-time jobs and other low paid jobs, policy since the fourth National Lesbian and Gay Conference 1996. Conference urges the NLGC to examine articles appearing in the regular “Work It Out” feature in the Irish publication “GCN” as a model;

VII.Consider and take up with the National Executive Council how UNISON’s monitoring arrangements might be improved so that there is:

i.A regular overview of proportionality and fair representation across the whole union perhaps along the lines of the Trades Union Congress’s two-yearly reports;

ii.More feedback and not just of statistics but of the impact of good and less good practice; and,