Saturday, 10 December 2011

UNITE retired members

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.

Retired Members
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.

In summary:
  1. Members who retire after 20 years' contributions will continue to be eligible for free membership.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. A proportion of retired member plus contributions will be remitted back to the regions for the exclusive use of retired members work and campaigning.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.


Anonymous said...

does this mean that anyone who did get free life membership prior to 2012 is no longer eligible for benefit unless joining the plus or does their status stay the same - unclear in the above

Anonymous said...

great way to boost membership

Ian said...

Isn't this clear:

"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."

To me, that means that irrespective of when you retired, you need to pay (be in Retired Member Plus) to get benefits.

There IS a difference with respect to participation in UNITE's structures depending on when you retired, but not for benefits as far as I can see.

john said...

Members who retire after 20 years' contributions will continue to be eligible for free membership

What type of membership does the above constitute Ian ie does a 20 yr contributor have full membership and if say someone was retiring now and had over 20yrs is it membership in name only with no rights or benefits at all

Ian said...

A retired member with 20 years paying membership will not get benefits unless they join "retired member plus" (i.e. pay 50p a week currently) or full membership.

Whether retired members who choose not to pay can participate in UNITE structures depends on whether they joined before 1 January 2012.

George Riches said...

What about members who retired before 1 Jan 12, but haven't yet reached 20 years of contributions?

When they do complete 20 years of membership will they be eligible for free membership, without benefits, but with voting rights?

Ian said...

George - as I understand it, that's right, but they would only have the right to vote in a General Secretary election.


Anonymous said...

bit like the government, lets rip of the pensioners

Mark said...

When told that i qualified for FREE membership it did seem to good to be true and sure enough it was.Free membership didnot last long as benifits again have to be paid for.
Where did all the Free benifits disappair to.

Anonymous said...

there was a period where you did get full benefit on retiring with free membership after paying in for your working life-sadly as the previous poster said someone in the union decided they were missing a chance of a bit of income somewhere along the way-very similar to a certain government we now have in power-pot,kettle,black?mmmm

Anonymous said...

so ive been a member since 1970 and retired in october 2011 ,never had a claim or required any union help ,been a collector and shop steward ,
does thia mean if i want any help i dont get it unless i join retirement plus at to me this seems another rip off by a once great union which was the AEU ,

Anonymous said...

I have been a continuous paying member since 1965.
I reach retirement age next month (Sept. 2013).
I always thought that at retirement age one took on free membership whilst retaining benefits.
Today I discovered that this is NOT the case and I have to continue to pay, albeit at a reduced rate.
I think it a sad rip-off and I intend to cancel any future subscriptions and cancel my membership.
VERY disappointing after a lifetime of loyalty............