The National Briefing was held In Manchester on Tuesday the 13th March 2018 which I attended with my Branch Secretary.

Dave Ward In his opening address told delegates that at any given time every Union has to look at the work that the union does, and there is no more important time for us to look at the redesign of the CWU. We need to reflect on where we stand and what changes need to be made within our structure. The NCU & UCW merged 25 years ago, and we may have to merge with another union at some time in the future, however as far as possible we want remain as a separate Union.

The New structure of headquarters is based on the three pillars; this will require changes with some mergers of departments and to the Employees pensions. There will also be voluntary redundancies, but there will be no compulsory redundancies. Talks with the staffs trade union are taking place on these issues.

We need to look at the space that we require at Headquarters, 150 The Broadway because at the moment it is under occupied. If we cannot lease the spare capacity we may have to move to another premises. We also need to look at our education facilities and decide if we should keep both Alvescot and the Elstead Hotel.

The Redesign is not just about achieving financial stability, as crucial as that is we will also discuss the overall aims and objectives of the project and how this is being presented in a motion to Annual Conference. From this you will see the Redesign offers the best chance we will ,ever have to deliver progressive change and ensure the CWU is fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world of work.

For trade unionist and workers everywhere there is no more important debate than securing the future of your union and the wider union movement. There is work to do and todays briefing is the next step in the process.

Tony Kearns - Said that the Union is asset rich, but over the last ten years we have lost over 40,000 members and with membership is declining it follows that our income is falling, so we need to invest in the organisation of recruitment. There are a large number of companies in the communications business where we should be recruiting. On the Branch and Regional structure Tony said we need to look at Branch and Regional Structures to ensure that they share and pool resources. The report also asked for a review of the regional structures.

The Report looks at the structure of all areas of the union which includes Conferences, Branch Structure, Regional Structure, and National Structures. Branches are requested to complete questionnaires on all these issues, so if you attend your Branch Committee meetings please ensure that the Retired Member’s views on your issues are heard. It is not possible to report on all the items raised within this report, so I have listed below what I feel are the main issues affecting the retired members of the union.

Retired Members

Within the report these are the issues that I have identified relating to Retired Members

  1. Annual Conference. The report looks at the possibility of moving to a Biennial Conference. National Forums/Briefings could be utilised to bring people together between conferences, or if an urgent or unforeseen issue arises.
  2. Retired Members Conference. The report asks Branches to consider moving the Retired Members Conference to biennial, with a provision that at the Annual Political Event matters that may have an impact on our retired members could be discussed. The political landscape is possibly the single biggest influence on the lives of our retired membership. This may be a way of fulfilling the Motions that have requested that the Retired Members Conference be moved to the autumn months.
  3. Advisory Committees. The report laid out the structure of all the Advisory Committees as they are at the present time, and measures to give a more formal link between the committees and the NEC. The report when on to say that good work has been done by all the committees over time, but in reality the terms of reference for what we expect of these committees have never been clearly laid out by the CWU. Considerable union resources are put into these committees and their activities, perhaps it is now time to define their roles and responsibilities more clearly and set out clear objectives for their work. We should also consider how their work can better support the broader political, industrial, organising and campaigning aims of the union.

The Report requests Branches to give their response to the questions asked on each sections of the Report.

At the close of the briefing the General Secretary thanked everyone for attending and reminded Branches that the closing date for responses to this report must be received by the close of business on the 11th May 2018.

He also reminded that there will be a TUC demonstration on a new deal for workers on the 12th May 2018 in London. He asked that there be as many branches as possible encourage members to attend.

Rod Downing - Retired Members Secretary


A Joint Meeting with the NEC members and the RMAC took place on Monday the 5th of February 2018.

At this meeting those present were presented with a document from the NEC meeting held on the 30th November 17, which had been held following the first meeting of the Joint working party on the 9th November 17. It was made clear that any final decision made at RMAC meetings on the issues surrounding motion 29 the NEC will be responsible for making any decision on the way forward.

It was agreed that Retired Members must be served differently from working Members, and to identify positions that are open to Retired Members, these could possibly be Branch Treasurer, or Political Officer as these are not Management facing positions.

It was also agreed that the Branch Retired Secretary should have a position on the Branch Committee. The RMAC members made it clear that Plan 5 members must be served differently from retired members. Plan 5 members can stand and also vote for Branch Officers.

It was also agreed the National Rule 4.8 the wording, (to deal with retired members problems) should be changed to more appropriate wording. It was also agreed that Branches should elect a retired members section within the Branch which should have a Chair, Secretary and Committee Members.

Full RMAC Meeting held on the 9th February 2018.

This meeting was presented with a report from the Joint Working Party with a list of recommendations from the Motion 29 working group. These were as follows:-

1.  That the NEC needs to review the status of Plan 5 memberships to ensure that the principles of differentiating between working and non -working members are properly dealt with. The Woking Group considered this matter, particularly the historical issues around portable membership that has evolved into a group of members into a mixture of working and non- working members. The consensus formed however was that this matter is proper to be dealt with by the NEC.

The RMAC agreed with this recommendation.

2.  That the NEC needs to recognise and accept a responsibility to plan for a future generation of representatives at every level. Motion 29 called for the working group to recognise and consider that ``Succession planning and progression within the union is important to the development and longevity of our organisation." The recommendation went on to state that this was not just an issue exclusive to Branches, and that this was something NEC should develop by setting up a future leaders agenda.

The RMAC had no problems with this recommendation.

3.   The recommendation dealt with the question of Retired Members voting rights. It said the voting rights have been debated at length at all levels within the CWU. It went on to say that Motion 29 is clear ``that the principle that retired members should not be able to vote for occupational/industrial positions”. The working group concluded that at Branch level the roles of Treasurer/ Financial Secretary; as well a political officer should not be the only roles that retired members can vote for but also that they should be eligible to stand for election to. At national Level voting rights for the General Secretary, Senior Deputy Secretary and Legal Services need to be clearly identified.

The RMAC discussed this recommendation at length with the SDS and made it quite clear that we could not agree to the wording of this recommendation. We believe that the retired Members should be allowed to vote for senior Branch Officers who are responsible for the Retired members of the Branch.

4.   The final recommendation that the working group agreed was to make the NEC concerned about he roles to be played by members who are retired. It was also agreed that the way the rule book is written sends out the wrong message. In the first instance rule 6.4.8 needs to be reworded to take out the reference to retired problems as this has negative connotations. A more positive emphasis should be made about promoting the interest of these members. The NEC should reword this part of the rule to show that retired members are valued and we welcome their input and assistance.

The RMAC agreed with this recommendation.

Please note the wording of the recommendations have been abridged, with the main points of the recommendation printed.

Rod Downing

RMAC Member.

Time for real Dignity in Old Age!

Pensioner groups across the country marked National Dignity Action Day on the 1st February 18 by promoting the idea that the care of older people needed urgent action.

On behalf of the CWU SE 5 Branch I attended the Wessex NPC National Dignity Day of action at the Queen Alexandra Hospital where we received a great deal of support from both staff and visitors.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth signed up to the Dignity Code on behalf of Portsmouth City Council.

The National Pensioners Convention Report states that Pensioners are often patronised, discriminated against and sometimes abused – something that must be acknowledged and cease.

In addition, older people also tend to have poorer housing, live alone, and have lower and reducing income. Their access to health care can be refused solely because of their age.

Some are abused mentally or physically – sometimes by carers, sometimes by relatives and our social care system is clearly broken.

 Since 2010 there have been over £5bn worth of cuts to funding and as a result over 1.2million people no longer get the care they need. Those who pay for their own care in a home often face higher bills than those who are supported by their local authority.

MPs have also recently suggested that 1.3 million pensioners are at risk of “withering away” in their own home because of malnutrition caused by loneliness. Only 29,000 people now receive Meals on Wheels, down from 155,000 a decade ago.

Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary said: “Everything about the care of older people, from the quality and standards to the funding of services needs addressing as a matter of urgency.”

The Government has stated that they are to issue a Green Paper by the summer of this year which will be followed by a public consultation. “Sadly, the Government’s Green Paper in the summer is likely to be too little, too late.”

The CWU Retired Members Conference last week has carried a Motion inviting Members to campaign on the issue of care by all means possible.

Rod Downing

Retired Members Secretary

Retired Members Conference 2018 Report

Retired Members gathered in the Indian YMCA London on Wednesday the 31st January 2018 for our Annual Conference.

It was expected that this Conference would be well attended as the question of the voting rights for Retired Members had still not been resolved but unfortunately less than half of the Branches who have a Retired Members Section had delegates at the Conference. There are 104 Branches registered as having a Retired Members Section but only 51 branches were represented.

There were 14 motions submitted to the Conference 5 of these were not admitted to the agenda as they were ruled Out of Order.

The Motions debated were as follows:-

Motion 1 -This Motion from the RMAC dealt with the issue of Fuel Poverty in the UK, it stated that 11% of all households in the UK live in fuel poverty.

  • It called for the introduction of a national programme to introduce the heating and installation standards of existing homes so that they reach the standards of new homes.
  • It also called for legislation for all fuel companies to provide an industry wide social tariff for low income and fuel poor consumers.
  • To ensure that energy companies are obliged to offer payment packages to offline customers that are equal to those available on line.
  • To end the use of pre-payment meters.
  • To provide an annual fuel payment to all vulnerable, older and low income households of £500 which keeps pace with annual increases in average energy bills.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 2 from the North West Regional Retired Members Committee.

That there has been a rising level of cold related pensioner’s deaths, (over 34, 00 in England and Wales during the winter of 2016/17) the motion called upon the RMAC to raise the profile of this issue to the National Executive Committee. It also called upon the NEC to support the National Pensioners Commission call for the Government to establish a fuel poverty Commission to deal with cold related deaths.

The motion was carried.

Motion 3 from Coventry Retired Members.

There is an ongoing crisis developing in the NHS that affects all those in need of health care, and the elderly and pensioners are massively affected by these cuts.

Conference is asked to agree that a major campaign is required to stop the continuation of Privatisation in the health service, and for the service to be reinvigorated with the required funding to meet the need of all.

The motion went on to call for the TUC to organise a national demonstration calling for the end of privatisation in the health service and social care. It also called upon a Labour government to end PFI in the health service.

The Motion was carried.

 Motion 4 Submitted by the RAMC

It has been noted that the Government is to publish a Green Paper on care and support for older people in England by summer this year. The paper will set out plans how the Government propose to improve care and support for older people, and to tackle the challenge of an ageing population. The motion called upon the RMAC to work with organisations such as the NPC, TUC and the NFOP to respond to the public consultation which is to be held once the bill is published.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 5 from the Midland Region Retired members Committee.

The Motion said that the Conference was extremely disappointed at the delay in dealing with Motion 29 at General Conference 2017.

 Motion 29 from the NEC called for a report to Branches by the end of September. The Motion went on to say that it would be at least the end of February before a report on the NEC recommendation could be published. The motion called for the RMAC as a matter of urgency to enter dialog with the NEC to put on hold the additional paragraph to the Branch Constitution relating to Retired Members voting for Branch Officers, until a report that is acceptable to Branch is published.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 6 from Midland No.1 Branch.

This Motion instructed the RMAC to request the NEC to explain why the instructions clearly contained in Motion 35 at General Conference 2017 have not been complied with. (Motion 35 Called for the NEC to publish the advice given by solicitors on the issue of Retired member voting for Branch officers.)

The Motion was carried.

Motion 7 was a Composite Motion by SE.No.5 Branch and SE Retired Members Committee.

The Motion called for the Conference to agree that the National Retired members Web Page is not fit for purpose, in that it does not provide the facility for the publication of reports and articles that are relevant to the retired members of the union.

The motion called upon the RMAC to work with the NEC and the Communications Department to restore the facilities that were previously available to Retired members . The Motion was carried.

Motion 8 from Greater Mersey and SW Lancs.

his Motion said that with the Retired Members Conference being held in the depths of winter, with many aged and infirm members having to travel distances at this time of the year it would be better suited to be held in the autumn period. It was pointed out that may of the Equality Conferences are held in this period before winter sets in.

It called for the RMAC to work and advise the NEC to seek an autumn venue in time for the next Retired Members Conference.

The Motion was carried.

Motion 9 from South East Wales Amal.

he Branch called for the Conference to instruct the RMAC in conjunction with the NEC to work with the CWU Education Department to review the content of the Retired Members Weekend courses as a part of the Re-Design Project , as the current course is not fit for purpose.

The content of the course as a minimum should reflect the variations of legislation within the UK & include at minimum an awareness of the state pension entitlement, plus care and dementia awareness. The course should continue to be available to all Retired members.

The Motion Was carried.

Motions No’s 1 and 5 were agreed by the delegates to be placed before the Unions Annual Conference in April 2018.

Tony Kearns, Deputy General Secretary’s said in his Closing Speech.

This Conference allows us to come together every year and express our views. I can fully understand the feelings that you have on many issues, but I found some of the things said here today very upsetting. I understand the need for communications with the retired members but do not come here today and accept that we do not give the Retied members the support of the union. The Union has been actively supporting the RMT Union in their dispute over driver only trains, and we understand the need for there to be assistance for the elderly and the disabled on trains. There have been a number of Motions submitted to the TUC Conference on retired member’s issues, so please don’t come here and say that Headquarters are ignoring you completely.

Tony when on to report on the relationship with the Labour Party and the importance of supporting the party. In closing he said, `` we know there are differences between us, and we have to find a way through these difficulties. We have to show we are at one with our members, so we need to be as one and there is a need for all of us to identify the difference’s and find a better way of dealing with this internally. Go out and support Groups & Unions that are fighting for a better society so we can all have a better society for our Children & Grand Children.

The Conference closed at 14 30.

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