TUC Young Workers Forum

I have now been privileged to attend the TUC Young Workers’ Forum on a number of occasions on behalf of CWU Youth.

The Young Workers Forum (or the Young Members’ Forum as it used to be known) is the co-ordinating body established by the TUC to bring together representatives of young members of all of their affiliates. The meetings tend to take place every other month and alternate between the South East and the North West.

At the most recent meeting at the end of October a number of interesting items were on the agenda, all with a relevance or consequence for the CWU.

First of all, the Young Workers’ Forum has agreed that next March 2014 should be “Young Workers Month”.

This is a little tricky for us in the CWU because we do work with and for our young activists all year-round, not just for one month during it. Nevertheless, we know that we will have events such as a meeting of our National Youth Committee and of a number of Regional Youth Committees taking place during March – so that can be our contribution.

Additionally, at the end of March there will be the Annual TUC Young Workers’ Conference. Under the rules of the union, the National Youth Committee can determine which Motion to submit to this body, but we have to do so by very early in 2014. We therefore agreed at the National Youth Committee meeting held last week to consider what subject we should concentrate on once we had heard what subjects and debates generated the most interest at the CWU’s National Youth Education Event.

The Young Workers’ Conference contains a number of workshop sessions (not unlike our own National Youth Education Event). Affiliates are invited to suggest subjects and again the National Youth Committee suggested waiting to see which subjects captured most attention at our Youth Conference which will take place early in January before making our suggestions.

It was also agreed that the Young Workers’ Forum should establish an annual campaigning award to recognise the best campaign by young members in affiliated trade unions. I think this is a really good idea, as it will focus on some of the very innovative initiatives that are carried out. We await more details of the terms of reference and the closing date.

Finally and in some ways most significantly for CWU, the Young Workers’ Forum also agreed to propose to the TUC Executive Council that the age limits for who can attend meetings should be relaxed. Currently you have to be under 27. This causes something of a problem of for CWU Youth as around half of our 20,000 young members are over that age! If agreed, this will now change so that “young members” are regarded as whatever their own union defines them as. This will mean that all of our young activists will be eligible potentially to represent the union at the Young Workers’ Forum rather than just the 50% who are under 27. However, the Chair of the TUC Young Workers’ Forum shall still have to be under 27.

It is always a pleasure to be able to represent our young members at the TUC Young Workers’ Forum as you get to see, hear and talk to your counterparts of other unions. There is no doubt that there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm amongst young trade unionists in the UK, but growing the number of young activists and the number of young trade unionists in general has to be their number one priority.

For more information about the TUC Young Workers’ Forum, please visit:www.tuc.org.uk/youngworkers. For information about CWU Youth’s involvement in the forum please email us atyouth@cwu.org.

Danielle Areola

CWU National Youth Committee