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2009 Retired Members' Conference
22 June 2009
Carried as Amended

This Conference welcomes the initiative by UNISON in October 2008 in selecting twelve local branches for the initial step in setting up ‘Virtual Branches’ on the internet. This will make it easier for members to make their voices heard, get help, advice and become involved in their branch. This is especially important when retired members are scattered over a wide area and are not in easy or regular access with their branch. A virtual branch can help the union at all levels to organise and to communicate with all its members especially where they don’t have easy access to their branch offices or committee.

On the website all members can be consulted and respond to surveys on their views, concerns and needs; making the gathering of information easier on which to formulate policy and action. Discussion forums can also be established to facilitate this. Information relevant to each service group can be disseminated and views correlated on information and news directly relevant to each service group’s interests.

However this Conference is concerned that the long term development of this project is not receiving the attention it deserves for the needs and future of the retired members service group. The branch websites must be ‘user friendly’ for retired members, easy to navigate and contain relevant information to their interests. Access to Interactive, regional information and newsletters from branches if placed online, could reduce the costs of production and distribution at all levels. The ability to add links to affiliated and relevant organisations should be encouraged; e.g. the National Pensioners’ convention, Help the Aged and appropriate public service agencies as well as to UNISON retired member sites.

Therefore, this Conference instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee and calls upon the National Executive Council to monitor and report to members by March 2010 and thereafter in each edition of Interactive on the progress of the Virtual Branch project. Also, to encourage the provision of advice by the project team to branches on the inclusion of information for retired members on branch websites.