Reaching our potential members

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2012 National LGBT Conference
26 July 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that UNISON has always led the trade union movement on equality, including through our rulebook commitment to fair representation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-organisation has been instrumental in making sure that our practice lives up to our principles.

Conference recognises that the organising challenges we face now are greater than ever before. Outsourcing and privatisation have led to a fragmented workforce with multiple employers. An increasing proportion of our members and potential members work outside of our core employers, in the private, voluntary and charitable sectors. The community service group is now the third largest service group in the union. Cuts and personalisation in social care are driving workforce casualisation, and the number of people working as personal assistants (PAs) in England is now greater than the number of care workers employed by local authorities.

Workplace issues faced by LGBT members, including bullying, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, are widespread in the face of cuts and reorganisations, but are harder to tackle in fragmented workplaces. Private and voluntary sector organisations can have weak equalities policies and no union recognition. As free schools, academies and trusts spring up, there is a greater threat of attacks on terms and conditions of school support staff. Faith schools are regularly found to have a poor track record on equality, particularly LGBT equality. Many PAs are working for people who have little or no experience of employing people, and there are no national standards or guidance on employment conditions.

Conference believes that in these circumstances, LGBT self organisation is more important than ever in helping UNISON reach potential members. Not least, this is because many of our self-organised group activities take place outside of the workplace. Face to face recruitment – one current member recruiting one new member – is always vital, but even more so now.

Conference further notes the need to encourage new members into activism in order to keep our union strong. Conference recognises the need to use a range of ways to get members involved and engaged, where the traditional models do not apply.

Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to work with UNISON’s national organising unit, private contractors unit, and our regional LGBT self organised groups to:

1)Develop our strategies to reach and recruit LGBT members outside core employers;

2)Give our existing activists the skills and confidence to bring in new activists;

3)Explore and publicise the wide range of ways members can get involved in our self-organised group and in our union;

4)Exploit the potential of social media while continuing to emphasise the importance of face to face recruitment;

5)Ensure that in all this, we stay true to principles of fair representation and target activities at Black, disabled, women, young, low-paid and migrant LGBT members and at bi and trans members.