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2013 National Retired Members Conference
18 June 2013

Due to the Coalition Government’s twin track to on the one hand selling off as much of the public sector as they can, and on the other hand frantically slashing any services and budgets they still control in order to cut their way out of the recession caused in part by their policies in the first place – UNISON is facing unprecedented challenges in organising and representing our members effectively.

In the core public services experienced activists are retiring or being made redundant, or seeing facility time attacked – while the growing percentage of our membership in outsourced and privatised employers as well as in fragmented work environments like care homes and the homecare sector which many retired people rely on are having to work twice as hard just to gain and maintain recognition and they and branches are forced to find new ways to provide adequate support and representation.

Conference recognises that the appointment of Fighting Fund Organisers across the country over the last few years has strengthened our organisation and had a big effect in terms of recruiting new members and activists.

However conference also believes that all members of the union, including retired members have a role to play in terms of challenging the government’s agenda and in terms of building and contributing to the union’s activist base.

Retired members with our wealth of knowledge and experience built up over years of activity and with our connections and strength in the wider community as both the users of services delivered by our members, and as the friends and relatives of service users have a massive role to play.

Social Care is a growing industry in the UK with an estimated 1.5 million people working in the sector and on top of that some reports claim up to 5 million people providing unpaid care and support to a loved one. The social care industry is notorious for long hours, low pay, and high turnover of staff.

All of us will require social care at some point – and quality and dignity of care should be a right for all – quality and dignity of work for those providing social care is an essential part of providing that, and UNISON as the lead union has a responsibility to work towards this as a key alternative to austerity.

Conference therefore resolves that all Retired Members should aim to work with their branch and regional committees to develop organising strategies that recognise our strengths, knowledge, and community links to help the union to further our organising agenda in a way that takes local priorities and circumstances into account.

Conference also calls on the National Retired Members Committee to do the following:

1)work with the Strategic Organising Unit (SOU) to explore how retired members can work with the union nationally to improve our organising in the social care sector and build stronger links with other community based organisations such as Age UK and Carers UK.

2)work with the Strategic Organising Unit (SOU) and Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to develop a support and training programme that will encourage and assist UNISON members whether retired or working to play a more active role in the wider community in order to engage with potential allies – such as by becoming trustees, school governors, or local councillors etc.