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2015 National Retired Members Conference
1 January 2015

Conference notes that communications between branch, regional and national levels remains unsatisfactory as far as UNISON retired members are concerned.

Conference is also concerned that there has been a failure to produce updated literature on retired members matters such as the Branch Retired Members Secretary’s Handbook, the UNISON Code of Practice for Older People and various internal things such as a new recruitment form and associated material.

Conference is reminded of a commitment made when interactive ceased publication that an electronic issue would be produced on a regular basis.

UNISON faces a dilemma in communicating with its retired members.

Traditional forms of communication, via the post, are far more expensive and consume far more resources than communication via email and the internet. Not surprisingly, therefore there is a move towards the latter.

However, a recent survey suggests that up to 50% of retired members do not have the skills and facilities to communicate electronically with their union.

It should be borne in mind that most people learn their IT skills in the workplace and that:

1. PCs have only been commonplace in the workplace since the late 1990s;

2. The first Blackberry Smartphone was launched only 12 years ago and, initially, was used only by a managerial elite;

3. Facebook was first launched only 11 years ago and Twitter only 9 years ago.

Not surprisingly, therefore it is retired members and particularly older retired members who face difficulties in communicating in this way.

UNISON faces many challenges and must prioritise its resources. It must also adapt to the use of new technologies. However, there appears to be a risk that a minority of often vulnerable members may become isolated and disenfranchised by this change.

Technological change should not take place with eyes shut without considering its impact and seeking ways to mitigate any negative effects. It is proposed therefore that UNISON establishes a working party, supported by a budget, to:

A. Review existing communications with retired members;

B. Review the likely impact on them of a move to electronic communications;

C. Investigate ways of mitigating the negative effects of such a move;

D. Produce a formal written report with costed recommendations for next year’s Conference.

Conference, therefore, instructs the National Retired Members? Committee to set up a working party whose role is to carry out the actions described above. Conference also calls on the National Executive Committee to adequately fund the activities of this working party.

Conference also instructs the National Retired Members Committee and requests the National Executive Council to get all outstanding items published no later than 2016 and to produce an electronic version of interactive.