Redesign Conference: a Young Workers PerspectiveNovember 20 2018
At a time of great political uncertainty with a union movement soul searching to arrest the decline in trade unionism, the timing of CWU’s Redesign Conference couldn’t be more apt. Despite the enormous challenges we face, the opening mood of conference was one of optimism, which turned to pragmatism when necessary to facilitate the difficult choices made over the weekend.
Dave Ward, CWU General Secretary, spoke well on the matter highlighting the need for equality to be central to the union’s structure. As trade unionists, we should acknowledge the political changes made within the Labour Party. The current leadership has made a bold and necessary move towards class politics at what seems a crucial moment for the broader movement. The move to an Equality Day at General Conference should reflect identity politics falling within the broader context of class politics. By centralising equality we acknowledge the massive contribution trade unionists of the different strands of equality make, and that of our members in their workplaces.
The move to policy forums should, also, prove modernising, giving the union greater ability to react to changes industrially and politically. As a member of Bootle Financial Services branch, we have over a thousand members who fall outside the two core companies. These changes could be used to give a louder voice to ourselves and other branches outside of the core companies. Moreover, we could hold a policy forum to develop a strategy for the CWU to expand into other companies operating call centres to offset the decline in employment numbers elsewhere.
The Alvescot (the CWU’s standalone learning centre) debate was always going to be passionate, being revered as a mecca of residential learning among some, but deemed a sacred cow by others. The ultimate compromise, however, was fair, with a financial review to be held. As a rep trained locally, I can certainly be positive about the promise of investment into regional education centres, perhaps this is something retired members can engage with, to pass on their experience to a new generation of trade unionists.
The opening up of more NEC seats captured the pragmatic spirit of the conference, a move that can surely only increase democracy and give opportunity to colleagues trapped in the less favourable regions of the union structure.
Overall, there seemed to be a satisfaction found across all interests in the union, with a general move to de-centralise power and resources, ensuring our bureaucracy is fit for purpose in delivering an efficient service for our members amidst a rapidly changing industrial landscape. We can take pride in putting the interests of the greater labour movement above our own internal interests, leading the way amongst the broader movement, adapting in the face of adversity.
Bootle Financial Services
YW Officer/Fraud Rep