Report on the Retired Members Conference – 3rd-4th October 2023

Early in October, Joe Hannigan attended the National Retired Members Conference in Edinburgh as our branch delegate. We had one motion on the agenda and a number of amendments to other branches‘ motions.

Unfortunately, the conference dates clashed with industrial action on the railways. Undeterred, Joe made the return journey by coach, involving a total of 28 hours travel time.

Joe, who is in his eighties, displayed great determination to travel to Edinburgh, and once there played an active part in the conference.

I leave you to read his account of this year’s Retired Members conference.

Chris O’Neill, Chair, Hampshire Unison Retired Members

As a sole delegate and knowing Edinburgh reasonably well I was successful in getting a decent hotel within 10- 15mins walk from the Edinburgh International Conference  Centre. Rail stations (strike on tho’) and coach station a short bus ride away. The West End is plentifully replete with restaurants and pubs, with some attractive buildings and kilt shops for the wealthy.

The EEIC is a double building which needed exploring to locate the various venues. Lots of lifts, an escalator, corridors leading nowhere, vanishing toilets…..great fun. Seriously good facilities but wearying at times. Good catering in the meeting hall. Lots of relevant stalls and
a good National Pensioners Convention representation. Bags of information and the latest Rule Book.

First Conference I ever attended where the agenda was completed! Mind you my speech was cut from 5 to 3 minutes. I missed having a companion to keep me on song and had to gallop up to the rostrum several times to make contributions but it was all very
good-humoured and supportive. I was able to make the point that motions supported by the NEC were to a great extent uncontroversial but that some rejected were meaningful and required perhaps change in the UNISON mindset….and rule book. Above was emphasised with discussions around Motion 6 ie Maximising the Support of Retired Member Conference in due course.

There were many well-crafted and witty speeches….even musical ones.(I thought about a song but was not brave enough though I did quote Cindi Lauper). The discussion group I attended was “Communicating with Retired Members” which was helpful, and thought-provoking. This can be looked at by our RM section in more detail. Our worthy member Pat Turner frequently reminds us of the “rural deficit” ie the additional costs and burdens on out-of-city dwellers. One member spoke of the difficulties of of exercising Power of Attorney duties when there were no local banks. In our huge Hampshire county, this is worth considering. We neglect our rural citizens at our peril.

Christine McAnea our General Secretary made a good contribution and the Conference was well-chaired in the main with few hiccups.

I enjoyed it all on the whole but could not visit my Edinburgh chums as they were taking Covid precautions….so was sober and well-behaved. Again there were no official social get-togethers in the SE delegation…perhaps a shame but the times are difficult. I did meet
some old contacts from the past still chugging along!

Thanks for asking me to be your delegate… better than Telford last year… as many reminded me.

Joe Hannigan