A busy opening day for the union at BournemouthUnion Matters April 25 2022
Hard-working delegates deal with 30 policy motions across a whole range of important issues on Day One of Conference 2022…
Debates covered mental health, domestic violence and our NHS, as well as important internal matters including legal services, communications, and recruitment.
Campaigning against domestic violence
Afilliation to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) won unanimous support, as conference backed a motion from the union’s Eastern Region.
Moving the proposition, Eastern Region secretary Paul Moffatt talked about the work of NCDV and how the union can both support its efforts and signpost its services and advice to our members in such situations.
South East Region secretary Ruth Harris, one of many speakers backing the motion, pointed out the latest statistics indicating the one in three women and one in six men will be domestic violence victims, while Greater London Combined Branch’s Maria Exall made the point that this also affects people in same-sex relationships as well, and Kent Invicta delegate Ed Baldwin was applauded by the hall when he spoke movingly of his own experiences of being a victim of domestic violence.
Speaking for the NEC, women’s lead for postal members Angel Whitter told delegates that there had been nearly 800,000 domestic violence incidents in 2021 and a 22 per cent rise in calls to the NCDV helpline.
“Domestic violence is a major problem that needs to be tackled effectively and we must do all we can to help the work of NCDV,” she said.
Raising mental health awareness & protecting members at work
Mental health was the subject of four motions, each of them calling for better arrangements in terms of workplace adjustments, raising awareness and building and strengthening the work that the union is already doing in our branches and regions.
Moving the first of these motions on behalf of CWU Scotland, Michell Reid-Hay talked of the importance of making sure that employers fully recognise the need for adjustments on mental health grounds and said: “We need to lead on this,” while Dave Ray from Tyne & Wear branch highlighted the significant percentage of cases that he deals with on behalf of members which have a mental health element.
The second of the mental health propositions called for a legal requirement for mental health first-aiders in workplaces, while the third motion on the subject set out the advances that the CWU has made in this area, the various initiatives undertaken and training course that have been made available across the country. Replying to this debate, NEC member Steve Jones said: “I’m pleased to say this motion outlines where we are and what we’re doing.
“Thanks to regions, branches and the army of reps. Every single one of us doing whatever we can and we have made a real difference.”
“We’ve begun to unlock the taboo.”
Other health-related motions committed the CWU to supporting the TUC campaign for proper sick pay for all and the need to ensure that the impact of the Covid pandemic on people with disabilities is fully researched and a proposition from our Retired Members Conference mandates the CWU to oppose and campaign against the Health and Social Care Bill.
Build on GROW success and GROW the union more
During March, the CWU held a nationwide recruitment drive aimed at bringing as many as possible of the new employees of Royal Mail and BT/Openreach into union membership and two motions on Day One welcomed this success and set out ways of taking this campaign forward.
Paul Slodczyk, of Lincolnshire & South Yorkshire Branch, moved a proposition linking up the union’s recruitment campaign with our New Deal for Workers initiative and proposing to take this forward in a co-ordinated campaign with the TUC and Labour Party. Supporting Paul, South West Wales Amal delegate Mark Williams said that it was a “fantastic motion.”
Continuing, Mark said: “Millions of workers out there are not in trade union and this is the most fertile opportunity for a generation that we’ve had. Now’s the time.”
Responding on behalf of the NEC, Ray Ellis said that union membership, as a percentage of the whole UK workforce, had declined from 60 per cent to 29 per cent since 1980 and “if things are going to change, we’ve got do it for ourselves. We must expand into non-unionised workplaces.”
The need to helping and encourage the next generation of CWU reps and activists was the theme of two propositions focused on our young workers, the first of which instructed the NEC to hold a review of young member involvement in CWU activities and the second, from the Young Workers Conference, to review and relaunch the Young Worker Toolkit.
One of the recent initiatives that younger members have particularly welcomed has been the launch of the CWU Affilliate app, and a proposition from Tyne & Wear Clerical Branch made several suggestions for developing the app further.
Responding to the debate on behalf of the NEC, CWU head of comms Chris Webb thanked the branch and said that the motion was both helpful and positive.
“We’ve had 20,00 downloads and 8,000 regular users,” Chris said, adding that Afilliate is “the most downloaded app in the trade union movement by some distance.”