Category Archives: Retired Members

NPC Report for 2016

Branch retired members Verena Beane, Sue Clark, Rochana Lowton and Allen Hawley attended as delegates the NPC Pensioners Parliament at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on 14-16 June 2016.

Click here to read their comprehensive report of the conference.

 Ret mem at NPC

 

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Kensington and Chelsea Retired Members’ AGM and Lunch 2016

Once again our AGM and lunch was well attended and enjoyed by our members. This was the third successful gathering since introducing an annual general meeting with our retired members’ lunch. The lunch has been a long standing branch tradition since NALGO days. Reports, motions and speakers were all listened to with interest.

 

The buffet lunch

Members arriving

Members arriving taking their places

Raffle and AGM

Apart from the AGM and lunch we have also arranged a number of social visits and outings for retired members. Last summer these included a visit to the BBC, a trip to the BP Portrait Awards at the National Gallery and a day trip to Margate. We hope to continue in the same vein for years to come!

 

Our members are very supportive of our efforts on their behalf and are very appreciative of the hard work the Branch Retired Members’ Committee does throughout the year.

 

Verena Beane and Sue Clark (Joint Secretaries K&C Retired Members)

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Pension Inequality

[Notes of a meeting to discuss pension inequality at House of Commons Tuesday 8 September 2015]

 The meeting was arranged by National Pensioner Convention to meet with members of Parliament to discuss theNPC injustices within the pension system specifically affecting women.

Shadow Equalities Minister, Sharon Hodgson MP, chaired the meeting. Also present were Fiona McTaggart MP who has done a large amount of work on pensions and women, Ruth Cadbury MP, who is a member of the Women and Equalities Committee, and Kelvin Hopkins MP – they are all Labour MPs. Two NPC Vice-Presidents Jan Short (a UNISON member from NE Region) and Norman Jemison (UCU) were present together with representatives from UCU, RCN, Prospect, NASUWT and NUT and I was there as Chair of NPC Women’s Working Party but also representing UNISON retired members.

Despite the introduction of a new single tier state pension the manner in which it is being introduced and the scheme itself will remain discriminatory, against women in particular, and will continue to lead to greater pensioner poverty.

Jan Shortt very effectively set out the issues surrounding inequality for women in pensions. She explained that it was generally impossible for women to accrue the same occupational pensions as men as a result of low pay, part-time working, time off for childcare and caring for elderly relatives. This is compounded by the fact that many don’t get a full state pension having relied on their husband’s contributions and this leaves women frequently forced to rely on their husband’s pension income in retirement. She stated that ‘women are right at the back of the pension queue’ and that a ‘whole generation is living in poverty as a result of not having a pension of their own’. Three quarters of women pensioners live on or just below the poverty line. Jan painted a bleak picture of how women have not been treated as equally as their male counterparts not just historically both within the workplace and in retirement but that it continues to this day. All women born on or after 6 April 1953 will receive the new pension but not those women born after 6 April 1951 despite a man born within those dates being eligible. This discrimination is a result of the earlier legislation to equalise pension age for men and women.

The proposed increase to 35 contributory years to achieve a full state pension will also have an adverse impact. The effect of austerity has meant that many of those who are low paid are on zero-hours contracts where many are treated as self-employed, meaning their employer does not have to pay National Insurance on their behalf and most are unable to afford to pay into any form of pension scheme. The introduction of auto-enrolment and the new pension freedoms all pose challenges. It is a fact that low pay translates into a low pension in retirement. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that £193 is required for a minimum stand of living whereas the basic state pension falls far short of that at £115 currently.

Jan spelt out NPC policy of a basic state pension for all regardless of contributions set at 70% of the living wage.

Fiona McTaggart was equally hard-hitting. She spelt it out that only 48% of women get a full state pension compared to 80% of men. What’s more with life expectancy increasing it means that the longer you live the poorer you will become. Matters can only get worse and she stated that there seems to be ‘gender blindness in current government policy’.

The discussion was opened to the floor and after a short debate it was agreed that a joint submission to a potential Select Committee on Pensions would be the most effective way forward and that a request for this might best come though the House of Lords by working closely with new Shadow Pensions Minister and Baroness Hollis. Any submission should include older women’s pensions, the impact of austerity on all pensions and same sex partnerships and pensions/survivors pensions. It was considered that NPC would be the most appropriate organisation to pull this together with the help of the various trade unions.

Rosie MacGregor 09.09.15NPC Banner

 

 

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Unison Retired Members Annual Conference 2015

Sue Clark, Verena Beane and Rochana Lowton attended as delegates on behalf of the branch and Ken Davison (as an independent visitor). Allen Hawley was on the Standing Orders Committee (SOC). This year’s conference was held at the Brighton Convention Centre. As with last year the conference was well attended, with a large London contingency.

Tuesday 6th October

Conference started after the caucus meetings with a choice of  four discussion groups or a panel debate. RochanaAlan with postersouth Lowton attended the “Save Care Now Campaign” Sue Clark and Verena Beane attended the panel debate on TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Allen Hawley was at a SOC meeting

Save Care Now: Report Rochana Lowton
Speaker: Matthew Eggan (Unison Lead Person)
Chair: Rosie McGreggor (Unison Retired Members National Committee )

Matthew Eggan opened the session by explaining that Unison is very concerned about how the Care System is in crisis. Not only is it failing the elderly and disabled people who rely on it but the Care Workers are suffering too. The majority of Councils are facing a black hole and funding continues to be decreasing. Reports from CQC (Care Quality Commission) have widely criticised the Commissioning of Care by the Local Authorities.

The following have been identified:

Care workers are not paid the living wage.

They are not receiving appropriate and better training.

Most Workers are on Zero hour Contracts.

They do not get paid for their travel time between visits to the people they care for.

Workers are slotted in to provide only 15 minutes on each visits. This does not allow for any emergencies the worker may face on arrival.

Workers are not able to build relationships with the people they care for so are not able to work in partnership.

People receive restricted and inappropriate care.

Eligibility criteria used in receiving care is restricted.

There was a short question and answer session and Unison delegates shared their experiences as care workers or about their family members receiving care.

Unison is working to put this right and asking members to report their concerns and difficulties so that they can be supported. The more instances that are reported to the union the stronger position they will be in to put pressure on employers to improve the situation.

Please add your voice to Unison campaign to get the council to adopt the Unison Ethical Care Charter. Visit
http://www.savecarenow.org.uk and take action NOW.

Please contact your local branch office or call Unison National on 0845 355 0845.

TTIP Panel Debate:

Sue Clark, Verena Beane

The open panel debate was well attended The speakers were Sam Lowe (Friends of the Earth); Guy Taylor (Global Justice Now) and Lucille Thirlby (Unison National Executive Committee). The discussion was chaired by David Kippest (Chair National Retired Members’ Committee). The panellists explained what TTIP was all about and how it would affect all of us.

The main points made were:

TTIP is a non-traditional trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US. It aims to remove regulatory differences behind the border controls.

The agreement will cover 50% of the world trade and is seen by its advocates as a means to prosperity, jobs growth and wealth. Critics are more doubtful as it is being mostly negotiated in secret. Even MEPs do not have full access to documents. International campaigning has exposed some of the proposals and effects.

TTIP would give new powers to corporations to sue governments – effectively an end to democracy. Corporate courts (ISDS – Investor State Dispute Settlement), held secretly outside of the justice system, would allow foreign corporations privileged access to the law, placing the right to make profits above the human rights that we should all enjoy.

More privatisation of public services like the NHS and education, which would inevitably lead to higher costs for individuals

It would weaken workers’ rights and put millions of jobs at risk. Trade unions will be a thing of the past – in the US 23 states already do not allow trade unions to exist.

TTIP would reduce environmental protection and food safety regulations. Currently the EU has much higher standards on chemicals and pesticide controls than the US who want these reduced. For example, the US wants bans on the use of hormones in beef cattle production and restrictions on GM foods lifted.

Chemical standards relating to cosmetics will also be changed. In the US only 11 chemicals are currently banned for usage, in the EU it is 1,328

Medicinal drugs in the US have to be proved to be harmful before they are taken off the market, the opposite to Europe.

TTIP would be a blue print for future trade deals globally

Thomas Fine (Lead negotiator for Cross Border Services, US Trade Initiative) has been heard to say “If your NHS is up for sale, we want in.” That will create a real threat to our NHS.

This is a race to the bottom with significant financial risks

There is no way out once TTIP has been agreed with a 20 year get out notice clause for countries by when it will be too late.

More information can be found on the following websites:

https;//stop-ttip.org/; http://www.actionglobaljustice.org.uk;

http://www.foe.co.uk/page/whatttipwhy-worry-about-it; http://www.waronwant.org.ttip

Regional Briefing Meeting

Rob Beeston (Chair Greater London Region Retired Members) chaired the meeting that discussed which two motions to recommend putting forward for the NDC. (There were no motions from the GL Region to support.) Members were reminded about the effectiveness of collectively supporting two motions to go through to NDC but no effective decision was made on which motions to support.

Social Event

South Eastern region organised and sponsored a disco and raffle (proceeds to Prostate Cancer) in the evening which took place at the Waterfront Hotel, Renaissance Suite. They had 150 raffle prizes and collected £493. Three of us won prizes. A good time (networking) was had by all!

Wednesday 7th October

Unison’s President, Wendy Nicholls started the day by introducing herself and talking about her background. Her charity for the year is a special project in Gambia supporting Bijilo school. She then introduced the National Members’ Committee and the Mayor of Brighton, Linda Hyde, to Conference.

The Mayor welcomed us and told us that she used to be a member of Nalgo and is a member of the Royal British Legion. She believes in trade unions and regularly speaks with the Alex Knutson (Brighton and Hove Unison Branch Secretary) for advice and information. She said that retirement might signal the end of a career but not the end of engagement. She hoped we would enjoy the city and that we would always be welcome here in Brighton.

The President presented the Mayor with a Unison Sheaffer inscribed pen on behalf of Conference. This was followed by a minutes silence for those we have lost. Standing Orders Committee and Annual Report The SOC Report was presented by Ralph Murray (Eastern Region) chair of the SOC and accepted by conference. One of the decisions was to reduce the speaking time this year from 5minutes to 4minutes for movers/amendments and from 3minutes to 2 minutes for subsequent speakers and the right of reply. This will be reviewed annually.

David Kippest (Chair of the National Retired Members’ Committee) presented the annual report to conference, which was accepted. He suggested that conference support Composite A “Campaign for Living Pensions for the Elderly and Retired Members” and Motion 18 – “ Fuel Poverty, the Cold Truth” to go to NDC.

Motions and Amendments

AM

There were 37 motions some of which had amendments, 3 composites and 1 emergency motion. The motions started in the morning and recommenced in the afternoon. In all 27 motions, the composites and the emergency motion were heard. Motion 13 “Dying Before Our Time” fell (no speaker) all the others were carried. A second emergency motion “Cap on Care Costs” was ruled out of order as it was not considered to be an emergency. There were no card votes.

PM

The afternoon began with a speech from Dave Prentis our General Secretary. He started by saying that unions brings friendship as well as comradeship and shared aims, like a family. He described his grey hairs as being wisdom highlights. He went on to talk about the disgraceful comments and attacks on pensioners and the low paid. He started with Mr Alex Wild, Research Director the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Mr Wild apparently advised the government to cut all pensioner benefits now as “ they will not be here next election and those who are won’t remember who did it”. DP also cited Jeremy Hunt who is about to take away tax credits which effectively means someone on £18,000 pa will be £2,000 worse off.

We aspire to our members having a decent life. We aspire to convictions and decency. The government’s aspirations are purely financial.

Only our trade union has retired members that are listened to. Unison has 170, 946 retired members. That would make it the 6th largest trade union if it was standing alone.

Branch activists who stop retired members being active has got to stop. Retired members are the living history and the future! Retired members have the equivalent of 12,000 years of TU experience between them. With the Anti- Trade Union Bill everything is under attack. The retired members are needed to help both stop the bill and to help on a practical level in branches particularly with getting members to sign up and transfer their DOCAS payments to direct debit.

Two generations in two world wars gave their lives for a fairer society and “welfare” was born. New labour was wrong! There is no middle ground. They should have listened to Aneurin Bevin’s observation that “ those who walk down the middle of the road get run over.” Our work has just begun, let us protect our union, our services and all that we believe in.

David Kippest thanked Dave for his speech and announced that he had been awarded an honorary degree from the Open University in respect of Unison’s work in Lifelong Learning. The session on motions then resumed.

Close of Business

The two motions we put forward from our delegation for consideration to go to next year’s NDC (National Delegate Conference) are Motion 5: Two Tier State Pensions and Motion 25: Never too  old to agitate, educate and organise.

Motion 5 -Two Tier State Pension

(National Retired Members Committee)

In April 2016 a new state retirement pension scheme will be introduced, trumpeted by this government as being much better and fairer for all. However, when you look at the details there are several discrepancies.

Existing pensioners, in receipt of the current state retirement pension, will not be entitled to receive the new level of basic state pension. Although the method of indexation will be the same for both old and new schemes i.e. the triple lock, the implementation will result in a widening of the financial gap between the two pension payments. This is because the higher amount under the triple lock will be applied to the whole of the new pension, whilst it will only apply to the basic element of the old scheme and will not be payable on SERPS, S2P, Graduated element etc. which makes up the balance of the old pension scheme.

The motion calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee and the National Executive Council to campaign to right the injustice of a two tier state pension scheme and to ensure that the application of the method of indexation applies equally to both old and new state pensions.

Motion 25 – Never too old to Agitate, Educate and Organise

(Wolverhampton General)

The motion noted that over 65’s are a growing proportion of society and that this will have an impact on trade unions in a number of ways. The movers of the motion argued that trade unions must get better at engaging with older people and that Unison, with the largest and best organised trade union retired member’s section in the UK, is well placed to take a lead.

They therefore called on the National Retired Member’s Committee and (if necessary) the National Executive Council to do the following:

To ensure Unison’s ‘Charter for Older People’ is kept up to date and made widely available as a key piece of material to promote Unison to retired members, other older members and older people more widely.

Produce a regular electronic bulletin to keep members informed of campaigns, resources, research etcetera which Branch retired Members’ Groups can include in their programmes and members can take to other pensioners’ organisations.

Discuss with the Labour Link National Committee whether issues affecting older people get enough of its attention and if there appears to be a problem, how to overcome it.

Share information with other trade unions, seek to work together, raise appropriate matters with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and re-raise the need for the TUC to develop a stronger pensioners’ organisation.

Consult the Regional Retired Members’ Committee in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to discuss how their circumstances differ from those in England and how these points can be adapted in their respective regions.

We chose these motions from the selection put forward because we considered these would still be relevant at the time of the next NDC.

Next year ‘ s conference will beheld in Southport at the Conference Centre and in 2017 we will be in Llandudno, WalesSue and Dave and Rochana

Report by Sue Clark, Verena Beane

Contributions from Allen Hawley and Rochana Lowton

October 2015
Unison Retired members Annual Conference 2015
First time Delegate to Conference

Wow!! Attending a large National Conference can be daunting experience and confusing and feel like you are losing it. Initially I received a large amount of conference documents to familiarise with. There were listings of 37 motions, with composites and amendments. At conference everything moves very fast from delegates speaking on their motions and moving it with limited time given to them. This is followed by speakers on the amendments requesting support for it to be carried. Then there is time for right to ask questions etc. Motions are ruled out or fallen if there are no speakers moving it. Then suddenly the Chair stating that conference proposes the motion to be accepted and be carried and asking for show of hands “for or against.” Finally announcing the motion is carried.

For a first timer this can be confusing and may not be able to vote at the right time for the right motions. I was very lucky that Verena, Sue and Allen explained and briefed me all the way. This prepared me so I was able to enjoy the experience and build on my learning. It was fun meeting different people , networking and becoming aware of issues affecting different people.

It was not all hard work, there was also fun to be had and plotting what motions to support for them to be passed and taken to National Conference.

Rochana Lowton

Standing Orders Committee Meetings

I was nominated on to the Standing Orders Committee for 2015. I was a bit nervous as this Committee always had the air of mystique, but I was soon put at ease by the other members. It was not what I expected and it flowed very smoothly thanks to a good Chair. The first item on the agenda was the nomination of the Chair and Vice Chair. Ralph Murray (Eastern Region) was nominated as Chair and Ann Kippest (West Midlands) as Vice Chair. I was welcomed as a new member and invited to ask if I didn’t understand various aspects of the procedure (which I did).

Apologies followed. The Chair welcomed Jane Ellis back after her illness and Kathleen Jowitt was thanked for covering in the interim period. A review of last year’s conference took place culminating with asking that guest speakers keep to their allotted time. The Committee asked if Officers were inviting a guest speaker to please liaise with the Committee beforehand.

Speaking time was next on the agenda, it was agreed that speaking time for movers of motions have their time cut from five to four minutes and for subsequent speakers down form three to two minutes. The reason being that conference tended to reduce the time for motions in the afternoon and if movers had a written speech it would be unfair. This is to be reviewed annually. It was agreed that different topics are to be dealt with first in the following years.

There where 88 pages of Motions and Amendments of the document to address 62 Motions. It broke down to some being duplicated, 37 being passed, 21 not being competent. Passed were: Number of Motions and Categories

5 – Pensions

11 – Health Care.

4 – Universal Benefits.

9 – Communication and Internal Issues.

8 – Campaigning and Issues.

Ann Kippest compiled a Draft Order of Motions.

Two Motions from London Region where rejected: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Citizenship Issue) and Living Wage for Residential Care Workers (Pay and Conditions Issue).

All the Motions where addressed in the allotted time and the meeting finished on time. Considering the trepidation I put myself under reading the motions quite a number of times the effort paid off. I thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility and the nature of the meeting.

At my second meeting I was still learning the way the committee worked. The meeting followed the original format. Amendments to motions took the majority of the time discussing if they were out of order or not. An amendment calling for the title of the motion to be changed was deemed to be out of order as it would change the motion. Appeals were listened to and the appeals rejected as for the original reasons.

When raising motions for the Retired Members Conference, motions must relate to retired members and not deal with outside influences that we have no control over.

Composite motions were next to be dealt with. Conference arrangements were discussed, Standing Orders Committee guide lines updated and amended.

At conference we had another meeting the day before conference began to resolve any outstanding issues. We then had a meeting in the morning before the conference began, to ensure the conference went according to plan. I really enjoyed being part of this committee and have been nominated onto the training course, hopefully to be part of next year’s conference. I feel proud to represent our Branch at this level and hope to continue for years to come if nominated to the position. I would like to thank everybody that supported me.

Allen Hawley

Sue and rochabna

 

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Pension Increase next April

At April 2016, for the first time in around 35 years, the Basic State Pension is set to increase in line with average earnings under the terms of ‘triple lock’.

The National Average Earnings increase over May to July 2015 (compared with the same three months a year ago) was announced as 2.9%. So unless the government wants to go back on its word this should be the increase for the State Pension in April.

The cost of living figure used for the April increase is the previous September figure.

Under the triple lock announced in 2011 Basic State Pension will go up by the higher of:-

  1. Cost of living
  2. 2.5%
  3. Average earnings

As you can see from the chart below since the triple lock was introduced pensioners have been worse off until now because the government changed the inflation index from RPI to the lower CPI. It means the increases would have been over 1% higher if RPI had still been used for the cost of living for those who have been drawing their State Pension since before April 2011.

Their pension from their employer’s pension scheme is significantly worse off because only Basic State Pension has the triple lock and most pension scheme increases have been limited to the CPI ( although some private sector pensions still use RPI). Up to now those who retired before April 2011 are around 2.5% worse off based on CPI increases. Because CPI is negative this September they won’t get any increase at all in April 2016 so they are around 3.3% worse off from April 2016 (i.e. RPI 0.8% + 2.5%).

For a number of years CPI has also been applied to means tested benefits like Pensions Credit. We would hope this would hope the increase in April will not be zero.

Pension Increases

 

Triple lock under attack?

Already there are claims now that finally average earnings will be used to increase the State Pension in April this is ‘unaffordable’.

This ignores how pensioners have actually received lower pension increases because of the link to CPI.

It also conveniently forgets how the Basic State Pension declined relative to earnings after the earnings link to increases was last cut in 1980.

Is it fair to future generations? So should the benefits of today’s pensioners be cut back to pay for the future? This argument is flawed

It is the worsening of employer pension schemes and a ludicrously low minimum employer contribution to Auto Enrolment pension arrangements, and ever increasing state pension ages that are the real threats to future generations.

The State Pension (from April the Basic State Pension and Second State Pension will be combined) will become even more important for future generations to have adequate pension income.

So removing the triple lock would see another massive decline in relative value by the time they need a pension – so just about the worst thing you could do for future generations.

Will the negative CPI mean a decrease in pension?

Our advice is that pensions and deferred pensions will not be reduced. However it is possible the Government may try and push through a change as to how earnings in CARE schemes are revalued for public service workers at next April. They would need to get this through parliament where it would lead to negative revaluation.

Would they try and do this for just – 0.1% – we would of course oppose this.

[Report prepared by Glyn Jenkins, Head of Pensions UNISON]

 

 

 

 

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Unison Retired Members Annual Conference 2014

Sue Clark, Verena Beane and Allen Hawley attended as delegates on behalf of the branch and George Hulme as a visitor. This year’s conference was held at the Convention Centre in Southport. As with last year the conference was well attended.

Tuesday 14th October

Conference started after the caucus meetings with a choice of four workshops for delegates, three of which related to pensions. Prompt registration meant that we all got into the workshop of our choice. George as a visitor could only attend the Panel Debate which was going on simultaneously

Workshop – Branch Funding of Retired Members

Verena and Sue attended this as it is relevant to the research regarding branch funding of retired members.

Sotirios Loizou (Regional Branch Development Officer) led the session and explained how retired members could seek funding for activities at branch level. He is carrying out research about how branches operate in regard to retired members in order to inform the new branch funding scheme. The new “Branch Handbook” will contain guidance on funding retired members’ activities in a fair, adequate and agreed manner. A revised “Branch Retired Members’ Secretary Handbook” will also shortly be available.

The session included an interactive Q&A which provided both sides with a lot of practical and useful information.

Workshop – What Labour Will Do for Pensioners?

Allen attended this workshop.

Mary Locke member of the NEC and Wendy Nicholl from Labour Link started by explaining how the political funds (APF and the GPF) are operated.

Every 10 years members are asked if they wish to continue to subscribe to these funds. This is the tenth year so every Unison member will receive a voting paper (to be sent out between 27th October and 5th November.) The ballot period will be 1st November to 30th November with the results declared in December 2014. Members are urged to vote yes. If members do not receive a voting form they will need to contact Union Direct and one will be sent out. The APF requires a retired member to subscribe £5 per year.

In the last 10 years Unison has lobbied the Labour Party to support better terms and conditions for workers i.e. to halt the adverse pay agreements for NHS members; to defend pensions; to promote equal pay and flexible working. The schools’ negotiating body should be reinstated if Labour win the election. All members need to know the importance of this ballot.

Finally there was a question and answer session where most people asked the panel about what Labour would do for pensioners. Unfortunately none of the questions were answered in this regard. This workshop seemed to be a meeting to attract votes for the ballot and how much the retired members are prepared to pay towards the APF. When asked some pertinent questions the response was politely given as “If you don’t pay you don’t have a say” which summed up the gist of the meeting. There was no mention of lobbying for greater pensions, keeping the travel pass or retaining the heating allowance, the tissues that really would effect pensioners.

 

Panel Debate – Organising and Campaigning in the Community

George Hulme attended the panel debate.

A number of visitors and delegates attended the open panel debate on ‘Organising and Campaigning in the Community.” The majority of discussion centred on how we might protect the NHS from further government cuts and how to involve the community more closely. The panel concluded how important it was to:

  • listen to what people are saying in your community and identify the most significant

problem people are facing

  • identify one small, achievable change that would make a real difference to them
  • get to know someone first before you “sell” them any campaign ideas
  • frame your ideas constructively and positively. This will help build people’s confidence

that they can change things

  • decide who or what has the power to give you what you want
  • decide who are your allies

Regional Briefing Meeting 

Rob Beeston (Chair Greater London Region Retired Members) chaired the meeting with support from Ann Jefferson (Vice-chair).

The meeting was updated on the status of motions put forward for the RM Conference. It was agreed who would move each of the motions from the GL Region. Members were reminded about the effectiveness of collectively supporting two of the GL motions to go through to National Conference.

Social Event  

North West region organised and sponsored a disco and raffle in the evening which took place at the Royal Clifton Hotel. A good time (networking) was had by all!

Wednesday 15th October

Unison’s President Lucia McKeever, first president from Northern Ireland, started the day by introducing herself and talking about her background. Her charity for the year is “Meningitis Now”. She has a particular interest in this charity as sadly a member of her close family died aged 13 years of this disease.

She then introduced the National Members’ Committee and the Mayor of Sefton, Kevin E Cluskey to Conference.

The Mayor welcomed us and told us that he was born and bred in the area and was also a lifelong trade unionist. He hoped that we would have a good conference and that we would enjoy the unique style of Southport much as Napoleon III had. Napoleon was so taken by the architecture and layout of Lord Street, it is alleged that it influenced the way Paris was re-designed.

The President presented the Mayor with a gift on behalf of Conference.

Standing Orders Committee and Annual Report

The SOC Report was presented by the chair of the Committee and accepted by conference. There are four new committee members this year.

David Kippest (Chair of the National Retired Members’ Committee) presented the annual report to conference, which was accepted. He touched on rule amendments carried by this year’s National Delegates Conference. In particular he mentioned those that have strengthened the position of the National Retired Members’ Organisation at branch level. He referred to the new “Code of Good Branch Practice” and the new “Branch Retired Members Secretary’s Handbook” which will reflect these important changes. Communication issues were acknowledged and will also be addressed.

He finished by asking the conference to consider selecting Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension and Motion 12 – Free Social Care in England to put forward to NDC.

Motions and Amendments

AM There were 25 motions some of which had amendments, 4 composites and 1 emergency motion. The motions started in the morning and recommenced in the afternoon. It was agreed to shorten the speaking times after motion 18 from 5 minutes to 3 minutes for the movers and 3 minutes to 2 minutes for subsequent speakers. The first 16 motions and 3 composites were dealt with in the morning.

We were asked to consider putting forward motions 2 and 12 to next year’s NDC.

Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension

The conference has instructed the National Retired Members’ Committee and calls on National Executive Committee to campaign for:

  • an increase in the basic state pension to at lease the poverty level of £175.00 per week for a single pensioner and £325.00 for couples.
  • a return to annual increases in the basic state pension based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) or the annual increase in average earnings or an increase sufficient to ensure that the basic state pension is no lower than the poverty level, which ever is the greater
  • take positive action to make our concerns known to the Government through Labour Link, national and regional branches of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), local trades councils, by lobbying MPs and by supporting the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) and the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum in their campaigns
  • report regularly on the progress to national retired members’ committee meetings and publicise on all appropriate communication channels, including the national Unison website, U Magazine, In-Focus, E-Focus. The information must also be circulated to regions and branches.
  • Report back 2015 National Retired Members’ Conference on action taken and actual achievements.

Motion12 -Free Social Care in England

The conference has instructed the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

  • urge the NEC to continue to bring together Unison’s campaigns on integration and free social care for older people
  • raise this matter with the relevant Unison service group executives and seek to ensure that, in discussions about integration, Unison reflects the views both of Unison members employed in health and social care and Unison retired members who use the services
  • raise the issue with National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC)
  • publicise progress on the Unison National Retired Members’ web site and report results of discussions with Unison service group executives and the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) to all Unison National Retired Members’ Committee meetings in order to keep regions/branches informed. Work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to seek the backing of the whole union and other relevant bodies in mounting a major campaign aimed at improving payments and other help for carers so that our retired members and all other elderly people needing care can have their needs met without their carers being exploited.

Motion16 – Pensioners and Prostate Cancer

Allen was asked at very short notice to act as the mover for this motion! (He spoke on a similar motion last year). This motion was submitted by GLR and is about encouraging men to go for regular check ups as early diagnosis is very important for successful treatment. Currently 100 cases are diagnosed every day in the UK that’s 1 every 15 minutes!!

The conference called upon National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the NEC and other relevant organisations to:

  • continue to campaign vigorously for greater understanding and factual awareness of prostate cancer, its treatment and the benefits of earliest screening for pensioners
  • disseminate and publicise the research and other information about prostate cancer in Unison publications on the Unison National Retired Members’ web site, regional web sites and to branches.

PM The afternoon began with a speech from Cliff Williams (Unison Assistant General Secretary NEC and Head of Regions).

He talked about many of the issues affecting British workers. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation research for example has shown that more working families are in poverty than non-working. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and yet thousands are now dependent on food banks, many of whom are working. Many workers have sacrificed pay rises to keep their jobs. Yet MPs get a 10% rise in their pay whilst refusing a 1% increase for nurses and midwives!

The speech was mainly concentrated round the need to keep a political fund as this money gives us a voice to deal with many of the issues facing our members. This year we will be balloted (every 10 years) on whether to keep the political funds or not. All members including retired members have a right to vote.

All motions were carried unopposed, in spite of the chair’s attempt to influence the vote on motion 19 which would have caused further delayed by remitting it back for a further year. There were no card votes.

Close of Business

The two motions going to next year’s NDC are Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension and Motion 12 – Free Social Care in England.

Next years conference will be held in Brighton at the Conference Centre and in 2016 we will be back to Southport Convention Centre.

Report by Sue Clark, Verena Beane

Contributions from Allen Hawley and George Hulme

October 2014

Unison Retired members Annual Conference 2014

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