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2023 National Retired Members Conference
8 June 2023

Conference notes that 2023 has been the Year of Black Workers and its focus has been ‘Establishing legacy to generate change’. This year is not, itself, the change we seek. It is the opportunity to generate change.

Black workers often find themselves in low-paid, insecure work with poor terms and conditions. Besides immediate effects, this has consequences in old age. The ethnicity pension gap is the cumulative effect of a lifetime of discrimination in employment. Pensioner poverty is disproportionately concentrated among Black pensioners. Despite the Westminster government denying that institutional racism exists in our society, we know it does.

With UNISON having an estimated 185,000 Black members, there are likely to be at least 20,000 retired Black members. It is imperative that we build upon our long history of achievements in tackling inequities in our society by taking concrete action to enable Black members, including retired Black members, to take the next step in our journey towards justice.

UNISON is far more than just another trade union; UNISON is an organisation that seeks to improve the lives of its members and wider society by challenging the status quo and seeking to generate change. With this being so, conference calls upon the Retired Members’ National Committee to:

1)Work with the National Black Members’ Committee and other Self-Organised Groups to understand the number of Black members in the Retired Members’ Organisation and work to encourage those who do not have their ethnicity recorded in their membership data to update this;

2)Work with the National Black Members’ Committee and other Self-Organised Groups to analyse and interpret the data captured from point (1) and to create and implement a strategic plan to work towards ensuring that Black members are represented proportionately within the structures of the Retired Members’ Organisation at branch, regional and national level;

3)Work with the National Black Members’ Committee to review the Retired Members’ Organisation’s current arrangements to identify and take up equality issues, challenge discrimination, seek to ensure that its structures reflect its whole membership and to develop an action plan to support Black members to become active within the Retired Members’ Organisation;

4)Work with the National Black Members’ Committee to capture ethnicity pension gap data and to develop a strategy to reduce and eradicate it; and,

5)Work with the National Black Members’ Committee and UNISON’s Learning and Organising Service to develop a training and development plan to ensure all activists in the Retired Members’ Organisation receive training in ‘Defining Black’ and other relevant UNISON race equality training.

By taking these steps, conference believes, the Retired Members’ Organisation will contribute to UNISON working towards it mission to ‘establish legacy to generate change’. Doing so will also help the Retired Members’ Organisation to meet the needs of UNISON’s retired Black members and improve our ability to lead the way towards the more equitable and just society we all want, need and deserve.