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Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual & Transgender Conference 2005
18 November 2005

Conference considers it to be a fundamental characteristic of trades unionism that workers choose their own delegates from among themselves and the delegates be accountable to the bodies that elected them. Within UNISON, proportionality, fair representation and self-organisation have developed this characteristic further than in most unions.

Conference therefore welcomes how the Trades Union Congress’s (TUC’s) constitution has developed to include seats on the General Council as follows :

Section D: 4 women who are members of an affiliated organisation with less that 200,000 members;

Section E and F : 1 Black Member who is a member of an affiliate with 200,000 or more members and 1 from an affiliate with less;

Section G : 1 Black Woman who is a member of an affiliated organisation;

Section H : 1 Member representing Disabled Trade Unionists;

Section I : 1 Member representing LGBT trade unionists;

Section J : 1 Member under the age of 27

Conference notes that :

1.The TUC has a structure of equality conferences and committees for Black, Disabled, LGBT and Women workers, but these are not self organised because neither conference delegates nor committee members have to be from the respective groups;

2.The TUC’s constitution specifies that the elections for sections D – J are held at TUC Congress, with those for sections D – F by ballot votes of all the affiliates allocated to those sections, while the elections for sections G – J are by ballot vote of all affiliates;

3.The view of UNISON’s former Lesbian and Gay Conference that the General Council members in Sections H – J should be elected by delegates to the respective Equalities Conferences rather than those to Congress.

Conference also notes that this system of election enables certain large unions, UNISON among them, to arrange with each other in which sections they will nominate and agree to support each other’s candidates in any contest.

One of the effects of this is that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) members of UNISON, indeed LGBT members of 69 of the TUC’s 70 affiliates, have no say whatsoever who the lgbt representative on the General Council will be. UNISON co-operates to bring this about.

Conference further notes that:

A.This has been the subject of lengthy debate in the National Executive Council Self-organised Groups Liaison Committee;

B.The National Executive Council’s (NEC’s) Policy Development and Campaigns Committee (PDCC) has agreed that, In the longer term, UNISON will seek, in co-operation with other affiliates, to ensure that these seats are elected by the unions’ delegates at the respective equality conferences (after consultation with those conferences) and appropriate rule changes are brought forward;

C.During 2004/05 each of the TUC equality conferences carried motions calling for a reform of TUC procedures allowing for the election of the seats in sections D-J by the appropriate Equality Conferences; and,

DThe Black Workers’ Conference selected this motion to submit to Congress 2005; but,

E.After lengthy debate in the UNISON Congress delegation, in which representatives of two national SOG committees stated that they opposed the proposed change, UNISON opposed the motion and it was lost.

Conference considers that the TUC equality conferences each voting for change met the PDCC’s condition for UNISON to seek a change in the TUC’s rules.

Conference confirms that its view is that the unions’ delegates to the TUC equality conferences rather than those to Congress should elect the respective equality representatives on the TUC General Council. However it recognises that UNISON’s approach to seeking such a change needs to be developed in full consultation with the SOGs and that there may well be a need to pursue a different approach for different sections to reflect the different views amongst UNISON national SOGs regarding the appropriate electoral constituency at this time for those sections.

In this context Conference recognises that the 2005 National LGBT Conference has reaffirmed the view that the election to Section I, the seat for a member representing LGBT Trade Unionists, should be held at TUC LGBT conference.

It instructs the NEC to seek to change the TUC’s rules accordingly.