- 2018 National LGBT Conference
- 27 July 2018
With an average members age being 56 UNISON is a middle-aged union.
Conference recognises that two key areas of under representation within UNISON’s membership categories are retired and young Members. This is also evident within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Self Organised Group (SOG).
The 2017 Retired Members Conference reported that;
“UNISON has over 172,000 retired members, about one UNISON member in eight, a number and proportion that continues to grow, but the rate of growth has declined from nearly 4% in 2010/11 to less than 1% in 2015/16”.
While the number of members who identify as LGBT is unknown, a comparison can be drawn with estimates of the United Kingdom’s LGBT population. The Office of National Statistics believes this to be around 2% whilst other independent surveys claim the figure is more like 6%. Using these estimates there may be anything between 3,440 and 10,320 retired LGBT UNISON members.
Conference recognises that retirement can be a significant life change during which involvement in trade union activism often diminishes. However, in retirement some members become active anew and in later life the discrimination experienced by many LGBT people does not necessarily reduce, it simply appears in other areas of life so LGBT self-organisation remains as relevant as ever.
Retaining retired LGBT members is essential for the LGBT SOG as these members have a long history of activism and campaigning for the rights we enjoy today. Their experience, skills, knowledge and activism is extremely valuable when challenging the ongoing discrimination we all continue to face, regardless of age.
Conference notes the work of the West Midlands Regional LGBT Group with the region’s Retired Members’ Committee:
a. A seminar on issues facing older LGBT people like equal pensions and access to appropriate health and social care services
b. Decisions of the Regional Retired Members’ Committee to:
i. Expand the Committee to include representatives of retired members of each regional SOG; and,
ii. Include work with one or more regional SOG(s) in each year’s programme;
c. Each has a report from the other as a standing agenda item;
d. Exchanging information and supporting each other’s initiatives on issues of shared concern like surviving partners’ pensions and how to elect retired members’ representatives to SOG conferences; and
e. Including LGBT material in retired members’ publications, including how to subscribe to Out in UNISON and the monthly LGBT e-bulletin, propaganda like ‘Be a Trans Ally’ and UNISON taking part at Pride and how to join in.
At the other end of the spectrum it is essential for UNISON’s future that young members are recruited.
As society becomes more permissive young people gain more confidence to ‘come out’ and be their authentic selves at a far younger age than many of their predecessors. Consequently, the LGBT landscape is evolving and young people are identifying and expressing themselves in ways that many could not have foreseen a generation ago.
UNISON and the LGBT SOG benefit from the different perspectives that young people can offer. Conference therefore welcomes the motion “Make 2019 the Year of Young Workers” agreed at 2018 National Delegate Conference.
Conference recognises the value of recruiting and retaining young and retired members
Conference, therefore calls on the National LGBT Committee to;
1)Work with the National Retired Members Organisation to consider ways of recruiting and increasing participation
2)Work with the Young Members Forum to develop a plan of action for recruiting and increasing activism and participation in line with the action plan in the “Make 2019 the Year of Young Workers” motion agreed at 2018 National Delegate Conference
3)Consider having a workshop at 2019 LGBT conference on recruiting and organising with Young and retired members.
4)Consider having a young and a retired member as speakers at 2019 LGBT conference.
5)Consider a recruitment award for increasing the numbers of young and retired members in LGBT groups and caucuses.
6)Consider having feature articles in Out in UNISON on young and retired members
7)Ask each regional LGBT group, and offer it support, to collaborate with its respective retired members’ committee and young members’ forum to develop a plan with time-limited objectives and pieces of joint work.