COVID sees remaining 2020 conferences cancelled

President and general secretary announce decision, with social distancing and health and safety concerns set to continue for some time

Inside the hall during a UNISON conference

UNISON has taken the decision to cancel all the remaining union conferences that were scheduled for the rest of this year.

President Josie Bird and general secretary Dave Prentis have announced the decision following consultation with all the committees involved.

They said that, in recent weeks, it has become increasingly apparent that the health and safety issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the continued enforcement of social distancing, will be with us for some time. The union will therefore not be permitted to hold any physical conferences in the short term.

The decision has been taken now to give branches certainty when planning activities over the coming months, to ensure the union’s focus continues to be on supporting activists and members in the workplace, and to protect its activists’ health, safety and wellbeing.

Further consideration will be given to the conferences due to be held in early 2021, as the timetable for preparing for these is due to start very soon.

Discussions will take place with the relevant national committees to consider options, if social distancing restrictions are likely to continue into the new year.

Ms Bird and Mr Prentis said: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to holding a rearranged national delegate conference once it is considered safe to do so, and thank all branches and activists for their patience, understanding and hard work at this incredibly difficult time.”

The following conferences are affected:

  • police and justice;
  • retired members;
  • disabled members;
  • LGBT+.

Any urgent questions about the cancellation of UNISON conferences should be sent to