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2006 National Women's Conference
14 October 2005

Conference commends the National Women’s Committee for the hard work it carries out throughout the year. Unfortunately, the National Women’s Committee is faced with an unrealistic workload. The tasks arising from the previous National Women’s Conference motions, together with valuable time spent planning and preparing for the next annual National Women’s Conference, are impracticable. Motions on equal pay, pensions, work life balance, domestic abuse and women’s health appear constantly on the agenda. With a massive majority female membership, more time should be allowed to the National Women’s Committee to promote, liaise and work on these issues within national and regional structures.

Conference believes that it is unfair to place such a heavy burden on these women who in many cases attend the National Women’s Committee in their own time. Recent research carried out by Liverpool University on behalf of UNISON North West Region provided evidence that there have been many positive changes within UNISON that have enabled more women to step forward into activist positions. The engagement of a growing proportion of women in UNISON is not only changing women’s roles, but also influencing the nature of the organisation. More women are becoming involved within their branches and regions; we need to build on this. Figures of those attending the National Women’s Conference show that in the past five years, attendance rose marginally to 343 delegates in 2004 and dropped down in 2005 with only 328 delegates attending. Consideration needs to be given to the factors influencing the fall in numbers, the venue alone cannot be blamed for this. If we are to continue to ensure a growing and active participation of women, within UNISON, we must look carefully and critically at the way the women’s structure is organised, we need to ask ourselves what parts are relevant to our majority female membership and how we can improve them. UNISON, ahead of all other unions, has always been at the forefront on ensuring women’s full participation. This must continue.

Therefore, we instruct the National Women’s Committee to:

1)carry out a full review of current working arrangements for the National Women’s Committee and the National Women’s Conference;

2)seek views on the current structure of women’s self-organisation by consulting fully with women in all of the structures within UNISON;

3)research examples of best practice from every region on engaging women in UNISON;

4)report on their findings to the National Women’s Conference in 2007.