This week's UNITE Executive Council discussed arrangements for members who are not in paid employment, which includes students, people out of work, people unfit to work, carers and pensioners.
This post deals specifically with Retired Members. I will post separately about Community membership, and retired members should look at both.
There are over a quarter of a million retired members in UNITE. At the moment, some retired members pay reduced subscriptions, while many have free membership. Most have felt pretty marginalised within the union, and the union has failed to make good use of this huge pool of commitment, knowledge, experience and time.
Following consultation with the retired members' committee, the Executive Council agreed major changes, some of which required a rule change.
- Members who retire after 20 years' contributions will continue to be eligible for free membership.
- From 1 January 2012 retired members who make no financial contribution will not be eligible for benefits, but will remain entitled to vote in General Secretary elections.
- Retired members who wish to be eligible for union benefits after 1 January 2012 will need to have "retired member plus" or full membership. Retired member plus membership will cost 50p a week, preferably paid by annual or biannual direct debit.
- Members in retirement before 31 December 2011 may be active and participate in the union's constitutional structures irrespective of their retired membership status. Members retiring from 1 January 2012 must have retired member plus or full membership to participate in the union's structures.
- Retired members can choose to be a member of the branch associated with their last employment, a local retired members branch, or a local community branch. Members cannot simultaneously be in more than one branch.
- There was some debate about the requirements for retired members who are branch secretaries / officers of branches (other than retired members' or community branches) to be full members.
- A proportion of retired member plus contributions will be remitted back to the regions for the exclusive use of retired members work and campaigning.
- There will be a conference of retired members in each region every three years, based on branch nomination. This will elect a Retired Members' Regional Co-ordinating Committee of 20, which in turn will elect a retired members' observer (with speaking rights) to the Regional Committee, two delegates to the Retired Members' National Committee, and delegates to appropriate external pensioners' and labour movement organisations.
- Retired members who are branch delegates to Constituency Labour Parties plus four nominees from the Regional Retired Members' Co-ordinating Committee will attend the Regional Political Conference. The EC will determine a number of retired members who can be elected to the Regional Political Committee. Until the next Regional Political Conference, each Regional Retired Members' Co-ordinating Committee may choose two Labour Party members as extra members of the Regional Political Committee.
- Retired member branch officers are entitled to attend the Area Activists Meetings which take place every three years to elect Area Activist Committees, the general open Area Activists Meetings, and to stand for election to the defined retired members’ seats on Area Activists Committees.
- Every two years there will be a national retired members' conference, held with the other equalities conferences. Delegates will be elected proportionately from teh retired members' regional co-ordinating committees.
- The Retired Members' National Committee will elect one observer to the National Political Committee and one observer to the Executive Council. It will also elect delegates to appropriate national pensionsers' and labour movement organisations.
Benefits of "Retired Member Plus" membership
For new retirees after 1 January 2012, you can only participate in UNITE's structures if you have retired member plus or full membership.
There's also a set of benefits available to those with retired member plus membership:
- Legal Helpline – non industrial issues
- Personal injury claims
- Free will service
- Fixed fee probate
- Lasting Power of Attorney
- Funeral Benefit
- Free £2,500 personal accident cover (UIB)
- Financial health check (Incorporating debt counselling/management)
- Welfare benefit check up (Unite offers members a free benefits review service. This will check what benefits you may be able to get and give you an estimate of the amount of money you may be eligible for.)
- Hardship grants – via Unite Benevolent Fund
- Discounted personal lines Insurance (LV= UIA)
- Co-operative current account (£100 cash back for member)
- Co-operative Funeralcare (Discounts on prepaid and at need funerals)
- Unite prepaid debit card (Free to member. Gives discounts at leading High Street retailers – Asda, Argos, Boots, Debenhams, M&S etc.)
- Healthcare cash plan
- Vision Express discount vouchers
- Independent financial advice – estate planning etc.
- Equity release plan
- Gas and electricity comparison service (Union Energy)
- Holiday Club
- Unite Lottery
NOTE: for funeral and convalescent benefits, transitional arrangements are in place for those with free cards who retire before 1 January 2012.