- 2005 National Women's Conference
- 12 February 2005
Conference has previously noted that:
1)many women members are unaware of the opportunities open to them within UNISON;
2)not all branches are able to establish and maintain women’s groups;
3)women still face discrimination and barriers to involvement in the work of the union.
Conference also recognises that Composite A, agreed at National Delegate Conference 2004, on Organising and Recruitment, outlines the basis for the union’s strategy to recruit new members:
a)to ensure that branches have an active branch development plan, including improving communication and contact with members;
b)to increase the amount of paid release for union duties and activities; and
c)to improve access to these arrangements for women, part-time workers, shift workers and black workers.
This strategy has been given a priority in the union and is designed to ensure that strong workplace unionism, campaigning and local activity are the basis of a strong and growing union.
As 73 per cent of UNISON’s members are women, with the potential for recruiting so many more, it would be expected that much of the responsibility for ensuring effective delivery of recruitment plans and organising strategies would fall to women members. The very same members who face the most barriers to involvement.
UNISON established its self-organised groups for the express purposes of building confidence and encouraging participation and providing opportunities for the fuller involvement of disadvantaged members. Women’s self-organisation is well placed through regional and branch women’s groups, to advise on issues of concern to women, solutions to removing barriers to involvement and as a focus for activities through regional and branch women’s groups designed to ensure that women take a full part in campaigning and organising on the priority issues of the union such as equal pay and pensions.
Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Executive Council to:
i)ensure any branch mapping and branch development plans consider gender;
ii)develop a system for mentoring new women activists within branches so that they feel supported and empowered to develop their role in UNISON; ensure this system recognises the needs of overseas workers who come to work in our public services, ensuring that they are recruited and mentored and their needs identified; seek to establish this system in a number of pilot branches and report back on progress to Conference 2006 with a view to extending the system in the light of a positive evaluation.
iii)set growth targets for women and part-time workers both in membership and activist numbers;
iv)produce advice for regions and branches on using the regional pool to promote and establish women’s self-organisation;
v)organise a UNISON-wide campaign to increase part-time women workers’ participation in UNISON. This should include developing relevant campaigning materials;
vi)recognise the benefits of Pathways into UNISON, in empowering women to become active in UNISON, continue to promote and publicise Pathways as a method of increasing women’s participation in UNISON and ensure women in all regions of UNISON have access to this course;
vii)ensure that women’s self-organisation is fully integrated into work on the priorities of the union.