Child Poverty/Anti Poverty Strategy

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2007 National Delegate Conference
27 February 2007

Conference acknowledges the fact that the number of children growing up in poverty has fallen by 700,000 since 1997, but notes that if the target of reducing the level of child poverty to half the level of 1998/99 by 2010-11 is to be met a further one million children will need to be lifted out of poverty in the next three to four years.

Conference also notes that tackling low pay will be a significant factor in reducing the numbers of those in poverty further. As a recent study for the Rowntree Foundation has demonstrated, the central premise of the government’s strategy, that work is the best route out of poverty, is flawed. Despite having a parent already in paid work, 3.4 million children are still living in poverty.

Part of the reason for this is that many jobs that were once full-time, in-house and reasonably paid have increasingly been replaced by casual, temporary posts, working for contractors or agencies at arms length from the main employer. Instead of collectively bargained pay and conditions, workers on these contracts receive the bare statutory minimum required by law, with no sick pay, carers’ leave, maternity provisions or pension. The government has also put downward pressure on public service pay through Treasury targets, efficiency reviews and reductions in pension rights.

Conference recognises that trade unions, including UNISON, have both a moral obligation and significant role to play in organising and bargaining on behalf of those in low paid work and that fulfilling this role will help the Government to achieve their child poverty target. Conference also recognises that this will compliment the work that the union undertakes in fighting poverty internationally.

Conference agrees, therefore, to call upon the NEC to develop an anti-poverty strategy which commits UNISON to:

1)building on the union’s involvement in living wage campaigns with community organisations and NGOs such as London Citizens and Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru (TCC) and other appropriate campaigns;

2)prioritising providing sufficient staff resources for organising low paid, contracted out and agency workers providing public services;

3)carrying out research into the impact of low pay on the well-being of the children of UNISON members and publicising the results;

4)investigating the links between child poverty and the provision of key services such as childcare, education, housing, healthcare and social services;

5)Continuing on from UNISON’s active involvement in the Make Poverty History campaign, working both unilaterally and collaboratively on debt, trade and aid issues in order to alleviate poverty in developing countries, and supporting the further development of public services which are essential if the Millennium Development Goals on health, education and access to safe water are to be achieved.