Retired Members Conference 2018Union Matters February 8 2018
Over 200 delegates representing 51 branches meet at the Indian YMCA in Fitzroy Square, Central London on Wednesday 31 January for the CWU’s Retired Members Conference. Following the Chairperson’s opening remarks and an opening address by the Unions Senior Deputy General Secretary, Tony Kearns, who explained that that the General Secretary, Dave Ward was unable attend due to having to attend an important meeting of the Postal Executive regarding pay and pensions and sent his apologies.
There were 9 motions on the agenda covering issues ranging from fuel poverty to the content of the union’s education course ‘Retired Members Weekend’. Tony Kearns moved the Motion 1, dealing with the problems faced by the 1.4 million elderly people in the UK living with fuel poverty, on behalf of the Retired Members Advisory Committee (RMAC) Tony explained that the problem was increasing and the numbers faced with the choice of ‘eat or heat’ and the number of deaths had increased by 39.5% compared with previous years. A number of delegates entered the debate bringing their own personal knowledge of the hardships being faced by pensioners across the country and the motion was passed unanimously.
Delegates also supported a motion moved by Jake Kharadi, on behalf of the North West Regional Members Committee calling for the government to establish a Fuel Poverty Commission to tackle the problem of rising pensioner deaths and fuel poverty. Judy Griffiths from the Coventry Branch moved a Motion on the issue of NHS privatisation and called on the TUC to organise a demonstration in opposition to it continued damaging impact on health care. She also urged the union to campaign for a future Labour government to end PFI and bring health and social care back into public ownership. The motion was agreed. The conference then agreed a motion moved by Rod Downing on behalf of the RMAC instructing the union to work with other pensioners organisations and the TUC to influence the outcome of a government Green Paper dealing with social care and the ageing population. Motion 5 was moved by Mick Jones on behalf of the Midlands Retired Members Committee and Seconded by Phil Duffy and was critical of the delay in dealing with Motion 29 to Annual Conference which dealt with status of retired members and their ability to stand in certain branch elections. Tony Kearns replied on behalf of the Committee and explained that amongst other things the delay resulted from the high level of issues CWU HQs had to deal with in the last year including the Postal members ballot and assisting the Labour Party in the General Election. Dispute this the delegates voted to support the Midlands motion. Another motion moved by Jan Zablocki, Midlands No 1 branch dealt with the same issue and was critical of the NEC failure to comply with Motion 35 which instructed the Executive to provide details of the reasons why the decision was made to change the branch voting entitlements. This was carried.
A Composite Motion was moved on behalf of the South East No5 Branch and South East Regional Retired Members Committee. This motion urged the RMAC to work with the National Executive to restore the Web page facilities that had had been absent for some time due to technical problems. Dorothy Burnett replied for the Committee explaining the difficulties that had resulted in the problems and urged delegates to support the motion and it was then agreed. The last Motion of the day instructed the Committee to work with the Education Department to review the content of the ‘Retired Members Weekend’ course to include awareness of state pensions entitlements and care and dementia awareness. Alan Trotter answered on behalf of the Retired Members Advisory Committee and urged delegates to support the motion which they did. During the midday break a ballot was held to decide the two motions that would be submitted to the Union’s Annual Conference on behalf of the Retired Members Conference. Under the Union’s Constitution two motions can be submitted and it was agreed these would be Motions 1 and 5.
Many new delegates attended the Conference and both new and experienced delegates made an important contribution to the democracy of the Union. Debates were lively and passionate with an emphasis on those issues that are of importance to our retired members across the country. Delegates came from all constituencies and those sectors of the union where we have membership and every part of the country was represented.