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2017 National Women's Conference
7 October 2016
Carried as Amended

UNISON was formed in 1993 and at that time, proportionality was a radical and hotly contested inclusion within the rule book.

UNISON rules state:

2.12.2 “Proportionality” is the representation of women and men in fair proportion to the relevant number of female and male members comprising the electorate.

UNISON women’s membership is currently at 77% and rising, despite overall some membership losses due to the impact of austerity measures imposed by this tory government.

After more than 20 years, the question must be asked – how well have we done on achieving proportionality? Are all our delegations, branch committees, regional committees truly proportional?

Conference acknowledges the good work to date on developing mechanisms to assist in this work, for example reserved seats, and its scheme of branch representation at national conferences,

However, it is clear; women are still proportionally under represented within UNISON.

For example, according to the SERTUC annual survey, (Paddling furiously, published in March 2016), Unison’s National Executive Council of 65 members is only 63% women (66% in the last survey in 2012) and The 2015 National Delegate Conference comprised 1,143 delegates (3,062 participants), only 65% of delegates were women.

This report also states that Unison sent a delegation of 59 to the 2015 TUC Congress, of whom only 68% were women.

UNISON rules continue to define NEC seats by male and female, rather than general seats and female seats. This has the effect of reserving seats for men, ensuring that our NEC will never be truly proportional.

Achieving proportionality is not just the business of women’s self organisation, it is the responsibility of all of us in UNISON. New strategies and initiatives need to be produced to enable us to really achieve and maintain proportionality.

The materials and training produced by UNISON so far have been excellent and there are many guides and leaflets that talk about self-organisation and include references to proportionality and fair representation.

In addition to these guides on self-organisation; it would be useful to provide very specific advice and guides for branches on proportionality and the steps a branch and region need to take to bring about change , remove barriers to participation and truly encourage women to take their rightful place in UNISON structures.

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 really achieving proportionality which might include rule changes, training materials, guides and leaflets, training courses.