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2014 National Retired Members Conference
15 July 2014

Conference is very concerned that, as more and more important communications are made online solely, retired members who do not have computer access (except for the limited use available in public libraries – where they have not been closed) are being left out and left behind. Regions and large Branches, let alone UNISON Head Office, can only afford to communicate with retired members by post on very infrequent occasions; UNISON’s all-member magazine is infrequent and rarely contains any reference to retired members. In addition, many elderly people have little knowledge of IT and feel uncomfortable asking for help with using it, especially if they have no grandchildren. However, they deserve better from their union than to be ignored.

Quite obviously UNISON cannot afford to buy every retired member a laptop and a week’s intensive training in its use. However we do have a fair amount of expertise amongst us, both in paid officers and lay members, some of which might be pooled to address this problem, for instance looking at rather old technologies like “internet-through- the-telly”, and developing newer ideas with similar “broadcast” effect. Also, at least one region (Greater London) has run IT classes for retired members – an idea which might be borrowed and used elsewhere.

Conference therefore calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the National Executive Council to establish a network of people in UNISON with communications expertise (seeking volunteers from our lay organisation and requesting some staff resource) to address the matter of communications with and amongst our retired members who do not currently have IT access. Conference also calls on our National Retired Members’ Committee to seek information about IT classes (eg as in Greater London) and to spread this experience to all regions to help them set up similar opportunities.