Despite the budgetary restrictions which we have had to work around in the past year, our executive committee continues to work to try and protect and improve the interests of Unison’s retired members in Hampshire. Here are the main points of my Report in brief:
- Campaigning, collectively and individually: to preserve the Bus Pass, which Hampshire CC is trying to cut. Where Hampshire goes, other authorities may follow, and pensioners are deprived enough already without having their free transport cut.
- Supporting Staffordshire University’s branch of Unison as they tried to prevent the pensions of lower-paid workers from being moved from LGPS to a Care Plan, which, of course, would pay them less when they retired.
- Demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament against austerity
- Individually we have sent in our opinions about the provision of the free TV Licence for the elderly,
- We are very concerned about levels of social care, especially for older people. More and better care is needed, but care homes in Southampton and Hampshire are being closed.
Conferences and affiliation
- Unison Retired Members’ Conference, which is a very lively event. Pat came back from Bournemouth with lots of ideas from other groups about what they are doing to raise awareness of the danger to the Bus Pass, and it certainly helps to meet people from other areas.
- We attend the Southern Region AGM,
- We are affiliated to the National Pensioners’ Convention which produces some excellent Campaign and briefing papers, and have links through Joe Hannigan to the TUC LESE Pensioners’ Network, which is also campaigning to support the Bus Pass. We realise that working together with other organisations gives us a louder voice.
- Action: Our section has been concerned about the lack of training opportunities for the main officers of retired members’ sections (Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer). We have therefore liaised widely on this subject and have the agreement of the TUC that such training is desirable and should be available, as well as the agreement of the South East Regional Committee. Our intention is to submit a Motion on the subject to our National Conference in Southport later this year. This will be only one of a number of Motions we intend submitting, which include issues such as protecting the NHS, the derisory additional state pension (25p a week!) for those over eighty years old, and the ongoing threats to the bus pass.
- We commissioned (pro bono) an internationally recognized futurist (a member’s son) to provide his perception of the future of trade unionism in the UK. The work is stunning and cautions trade unions to be aware of the effects on their membership of the rapid advances in technology and much else. The article is available to read on the Branch internet site.
- Research: to obtain a clearer understanding of how the union’s Welfare Department can be used to better support our retired members.
- Secondly, we continue to seek a balanced view of Private Eye’s ongoing criticism of the manner in which in the past Unison treated its members at London University.
- Social events this year have been fewer than previous years, but we enjoyed our usual splendid Christmas lunch, this time in Winchester. We intend to have more open events this year, and have some ideas in mind. Pat has been to Tolpuddle on two consecutive years for the rally in July, and was very enthusiastic about the whole event, so we hope to have more people there this year, with a new banner which we are in the process of designing. (Our thanks go to Jean N., the only person to send in a design, which we are incorporating). We plan some gentle outdoor activities (with lunch, or tea and cake) and some indoor events, including a film show. We will continue to send emails with information on our activities to retired members, but you can also keep an eye on our section of the Hampshire Unison website- we come under Equalities- to find out what we’re up to, and do spread the word to Unison members who are about to retire.
- Change of Chair : I have held the role for 5 years now, and it really is time for a fresh approach, especially on recruitment, so I am standing down. I will continue to serve on the Committee, and have become Social Secretary. I wish the new committee, led by Chris O’Neill, success in its campaigns and activities for the year to come.
Diana Barnes, Chair