Retired Members

1 – 2 October 2019

Southport Convention Centre, The Promenade, Southport PR9 0DZ

The national conference of UNISON’s retired members’ organisation.

National Retired Members'Conference - Pe[...]
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Bournemouth International centre

9th-10th October 2018


Delegates: Mrs Teresa Britton – Mrs Angela Bennett – Mrs Melvena Richards

Visitors:    Mrs Maureen McCathy – Mrs Pamela Jean Gallivan


Tuesday 9th October

Melvena attended the “There for you” discussion group – a look at what “There for you” provides and how to encourage more take-up by retired members – only 1% of 3,000 applications (2017) were from RM’s.  We all know that there are RM’s out there who are struggling.

A true or false session was held to gauge what the delegates in the room knew – and the majority did not know what services were available.

Comments made:

Did not know about the “Winter Fuel Grants” (grants of £40) and the “School Uniform” (grants of £40 per child) for members with low household incomes.

Some Branch Welfare Officers (BWO) are not aware that RM’s are still covered

“There for you”- not enough publicity about this service – could be published in branch news bulletin, face book, website and in the workplace.

Hand - sheets distributed on the “There for you” services.

Some info:

Quaker Social Action (ACT) – “Down to Earth” give practical support for people struggling with funeral costs – support to organise an affordable and meaningful funeral or reduce the impact of funeral debt.

Contact details: Tel No: 02089835055 or email


Teresa and Angela attended the “New Delegates” discussion group – both found it very informative and helped them to understand - what the procedures would be at Conference – A-Z of terminology and what the purpose of the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) was.

They later attended the later half of the “Help Force” discussion group.

Help Force – is on organisation which aims to encourage volunteers to support NHS staff by undertaking the roles previously performed by the relatives and friends of the patients.

£2.3m has been set aside by the government to fund this private company to enlist volunteers to this.  Help Force saying how necessary it is to have them and NHS staff in attendance were very volatile in making their point against these volunteers - they are seen as taking paid jobs.


We all attended the Regional meeting where the concerns were about:

  • No retired member representative anymore on any of the regional sub-committees especially the welfare and how do we address this.
  • the lack of motions from the Welsh Region
  • bus passes and the cuts to bus services in rural areas
  • dwindling numbers of retired members.


Jean and Maureen attended the Panel Debate on “Loneliness Amongst older people and how to combat it”.

Speaker - Sophie Andrew CEO of “the Silver Helpline”.  This is a charity that offers a confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people 24hrs a day, every day of the year, but there are younger people out there who are also lonely, and they can call the helpline too.  55k to 148k people are lonely.  Many examples of loneliness were told, but the saddest for us was about a lady who lived on her own with no family, who would ring the helpline at night just for someone to talk too and say goodnight.  A question and answer session took place.


Wednesday 10th October


Conference was opened by Unison President Mr Gordon McKay. We were asked to observe a minute of silence for those who had died during the past year.  Rodney Bickerstaff was specially mentioned.  The president then introduced the Bournemouth Lord Mayor Mr Derek Borthwick.  He extolled the beauty of Bournemouth and the work that unions do and wished us a good conference.

Standing Orders Committee (SOC) – report given and apart from section 8 on the Bucket collection conference voted to accept report.  Reference back was asked for, on the recommended recipients – Centrepoint- as speakers requested that money should go to supporting the Home Care Enablement workers in Birmingham who are currently striking (97.3% turn-out) as the council propose to either offer them a reduced hours contract (22.75hrs) or make them redundant.

Conference voted for reference back – on third attempt the SOC recommended sharing the proceeds, and conference accepted. We were informed that next year there will be a suggestions process for potential recipients.

There were two emergency motions accepted to conference: TV Licences for the Over 75’s and Fraud and the Elderly (only the TV Licence motion was debated and carried)

Annual Report was moved by Rosie McGregor- chair of the NRMC – who emphasised that Unison is in a strong position to make its voice heard and thanked retired members for their contributions. All questions on the report had been responded to in writing.

Guest Speaker

Mr Dave Prentis, Unison’s General Secretary addressed the conference.  He reminded delegates that 2018 sees the union mark 25 years since it was formed from COHSE, NALGO and NUPE, and that we are the largest union with 1.3million members.  He encouraged delegates not to feel undervalued as RM’s by emphasising the wealth of knowledge and experience together with commitment to protecting Public Services.  He stated that 700k jobs have been lost, and mostly women since 2010 and emphasised the importance of the fight against cuts to services particularly Mental Health and Social Care.  We must also fight against Universal Credit, whilst supporting WASPI, Statutory Minimum and Living Wage.

He received a warm round of applause.


There were 27 motions on the agenda of which 2 were composited:

A. Intergenerational Commission Report – The myth of inter-generational conflict or two brains. Calling on Conference to reject the proposals contained in the Resolution Foundation think tank’s report and the myth of generational unfairness is based on wealth and class.


B. Windrush – calling on Conference to condemn the hostile environment approach by government, as this mainly effects many retired people and some of them who are our members. 


Both composites were carried.

Other motions:

Post Office Card Accounts – Campaigning for the Future – UNISON Charter for Older People – Older people and loneliness – Representation on LG Pension Schemes (CIV’s) - Care Home Contracts – Power of Attorney – Inquiry into the Financial Reporting Council – Abuse on Care Homes.

These and similar motions were all carried.

Motion 21 – HELPFORCE supported by the NRMC – a lengthy debate took place, with a point of order being rejected by conference.  Emotions ran high on this motion and subsequently this lost.

Motion 29 – Assisted Suicide for the Elderly – again a quite emotive with speakers for and against but was not carried.



The weather was hot & sunny, and it was a good job we came back when we did as Storm Callum hit us on the Friday.

Teresa – I was impressed by the large number of dedicated RM’s from all parts of the UK wanting to support each other, the young and old in protecting and ensuring a good living future.

Angela – I found the conference to be very fast paced, but soon settled into the voting procedures.  


UNISON works to raise awareness of issues which concern older people and to influence decision makers. Our priorities include:

  • Pensioner poverty
  • Health care and age discrimination
  • Isolation and mobility issues


We believe our union should reflect the society we live and work in. There are more than 10 million elderly people in the UK. Retired and working members have a shared interest in obtaining decent incomes in older age, a universal health service and the creation of a civilised society.


Today's workers are tomorrow's pensioners and UNISON's members work in public services on which many older people rely.



If you've been a UNISON member for at least two years on the day you retire and have either received state pension age or get a pension, you can become a retired member.

UNISON retired members enjoy all the benefits of UNISON membership including: 
• Legal advice 

• Special discounts and offers on a wide range of financial and other services
• Welfare support 




Getting involved

Life does not stop once you stop working - nor does your role in the union. You can keep in touch with old work colleagues, attend branch meetings, take part in campaigns or help in the branch office. 

Our branch has retired a members group meeting on a regular basis. You can enjoy social events and outings, keep up to date with UNISON campaigns and support issues of concern for older people. 

Your UNISON Branch office can put you in touch with your group of retired members. 

For an application form, contact UNISONDirect on 0845 355 0845. Membership is either free or you pay a one-off £15 subscription, depending when you joined UNISON.

How we organise

UNISON is unique among British trade unions in having a Retired Members Organisation. Our structure mirrors that of the working members. This means that retired members can participate in UNISON's democratic machinery at all levels.

UNISON organises retired members at every level of the union. Retired members can attend branch meetings and have representation on the branch committee and regional council. You can also send representatives to National Delegate Conference.

Retired members committees are also represented on regional councils and able to feed views to the rest of the union. Furthermore, a National Retired Members' Committee meets regularly.

Each year our retired members conference enables retired members from branches to debate the issues important for them and submit two motions to the agenda of the National Conference.

Don't forget

UNISON retired members enjoy all the benefits of UNISON membership including:

  • Legal advice
  • Welfare support
  • Special discounts and offers on a wide range of financial and other services

If you've been a UNISON member for at least two years on the day you retire and have either received state pension age or get a pension, you can become a retired member.