25 years of self-organisation

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2018 National LGBT Conference
27 July 2018

In 2018, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of UNISON and of self-organisation in UNISON

Equality is central to UNISON’s aims and objectives. UNISON is committed to achieving equality in our workplaces, in our union and across society. Equality is a high priority in our union’s negotiating and campaigning work. Self-organised groups (SOGs) work in partnership with other parts of the union to identify and promote our equality agenda. UNISON has been at the forefront of campaigns such as those for equal pay, rights at work for same sex partners, gender recognition and access to work for disabled workers. Tackling racism remains a key priority.

We have a very proud history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-organisation, dating back to activists in former partner union NALGO (National and Local Government Officers association) organising the first national Lesbian and Gay trade unionists conference in 1983. We were at the forefront of the campaign leading to repeal of Section 28 and 2A in 2003. In 1994 the first issue of Out in Unison had an article on equalisation and the age of consent which was won in 1998. We have made other great gains such as sexual orientation being included in a protected list of Employment Rights in 2003, Gender Recognition 2004, Civil Partnerships 2005, 2010 Equality Act and 2014 Equal Marriage for same sex couples. But history is not the end, without our young members self-organisation has no future, and with so much left to do we need a dynamic future.

Self-organisation is just as vital today as when UNISON was formed. The right to meet as a group gives us the strength, confidence and expertise to fulfil our rulebook duty – to assist UNISON to promote its equality and bargaining agenda, defend jobs, terms and conditions and services, and build a strong and dynamic presence in the workplace.

Self organised groups may be the first point of contact with the union for members and potential members. Many members who become involved via a self-organised group go on to hold senior positions at branch, regional and national level. Self-organisation can and should be a vibrant and dynamic part of UNISON: welcoming new activists, encouraging participation and supporting members take on roles in the union.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee to continue to:

1)Promote the vital importance of self-organisation and encourage the development of branch LGBT groups

2)Give a high priority to the recruitment of LGBT workers into UNISON and of LGBT members into the LGBT SOG

3)Develop its work to make the LGBT group and UNISON more inclusive

4)Work with the National Young Members Forum to identify ways of engaging young members to drive forward Self Organisation for a strong future.

5)Encourage LGBT members to take on roles at all levels in the union and seek to ensure that appropriate training to undertake these roles and develop necessary skills is available