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2013 National Women's Conference
16 October 2012

Conference will be aware that at the Tory Party Conference in October 2012, the announcements were made to extend attacks on facility time in the public sector. Britain has a tradition of progressing industrial relations through a joint approach with the trade unions. Public sector employers recognise the worth in having facility time as a means of supporting trade union activists to fulfil their roles. In UNISON many of these activists are women.

UNISON women play a vital role in building and representing the union, both at branch, regional and national level. The role that women play at all levels helps to break down the barriers to other women becoming active and challenging some of the stereotypes of a traditional trade unionist. Facility time is vital to deliver our responsibility and commitment to members, and to assist women activists to balance their demanding lives.

A recent report by NatCen Social Research showed that facility time saved organizations money and provided a ready-made structure for meaningful consultation and negotiation. Even where facility time is used, women activists still spend additional hours of their own time to fulfill their union roles.

Facility time for Self Organization allows women to participate again across our structures from branch, region, and national level, which allows another route to women becoming active in UNISON, the only union with a Rule Book commitment to Self Organisation.

Conference calls upon the National Women’s Committee to:

1) Continue to campaign for the right of our women activists to facility time to perform their trade union duties;

2) To include the women’s perspective in UNISON’s campaign to defend facility time and its importance for women activists; and

3) To highlight to our women members the attacks that are being made to facility time in the public sector by the Tory lead Coalition Government.