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2015 National Women's Conference
16 October 2014

It is over 20 years since UNISON was formed and proportionality and fair representation were enshrined in the new Rule Book for the new union. After 20 years, the question must be asked – how well have we done on achieving proportionality and fair representation?

Conference acknowledges the good work to date on developing mechanisms to assist in this endeavour for example reserved seats, scheme of branch representation at national conferences, the UNISON Equality Scheme. However, it is clear from the data from the South East Regional Equality Action Team research and a massive piece of research undertaken over the last two years by a South East branch secretary as part of MA studies at Ruskin, that at a local level, in branches, women for example are still under represented and sometime by a significant number. In the South East work is ongoing with new initiatives being produced by the regional women’s committee to address this problem and to develop strategies to assist branches in achieving proportionality.

We believe that the South East is not alone and that regions and branches across the country would welcome and benefit from assistance on how to achieve proportionality and fair representation and address inequality and under representation in regional and branch lay structures. We also believe that the materials and training produced by UNISON to date have been excellent and there are many guides and leaflets that talk about ‘self-organisation’ and include references to ‘proportionality and fair representation’. However, part of the problem could also be that self organisation is too often seen as the panacea to achieving proportionality and fair representation when in reality it is only half the story. Therefore in addition to the guides on self organisation, it would be useful to provide very specific advice and guides for branches on proportionality and fair representation.

Conference therefore asks national women’s committee to work with national SOG and YM groups, learning and organising services, membership participation unit and any other relevant committees and/or department to develop new strategies for achieving proportionality and fair representation which might include training materials, guides and leaflets, training courses.