Youth Event: Debates span big issues and prompt great ideas

There was spiky debating, enthusiastic discussion, a pool of ideas and a few laughs at the CWU Youth Event 2015 in Birmingham.

The delegates confronted a range of workplace-related, economic, political, international and social topical issues through a mix of debates, speeches and workshops.

The event culminated in a mock conference with motions that were put by the delegates and debated in a session which gave them insight into bringing issues to conferences within the CWU rules, and provided a platform to build confidence in public speaking.

The topics explored during the weekend’s workshops and discussions were:

The threat to civil liberties including the right to strike, as posed by the Trade Union Bill; a discussion was led by TUC campaigns officer, Lauren Usher.

  • the pros and cons of the UK staying in the EU and leaving the EU; Labour MPs Emma Reynolds and Kate Hoey gave their arguments for staying and leaving, respectively, and answered questions.
  • keeping football match tickets affordable for working people; a workshop was facilitated by The Football Supporters’ Federation
  • protecting and raising standards in the housing market; Betsy Dilner from Generation Rent guided a workshop to gather ideas and see how the CWU could influence and easing of the housing crisis.
  • How the British Bill of Human Rights is a “dangerous con trick” and should not replace the Human Rights Act. Civil Liberties group Liberty led the awareness session and workshop.
  • Workplace issues in postal and telecoms with Q and As led by deputy general secretaries, Terry Pullinger and Andy Kerr.

Attending for the first time in his position as general secretary, Dave Ward began by joining an impromptu question and answer session at the start of the event, and followed up many of the themes in his formal address the next day.

Dave Ward met head-on his aim to get input from the under-30s to help shape the future of the union.

He said he wanted young activists to continue to progress through the union: “I want you to be part of the freshening-up of the policies of this union”, he said. “I don’t want you to get to 30 and fall of the edge of a cliff because there isn’t progress in this union for you. You have to be part of it and of the future.”

Dave said a mentoring scheme was being looked at with the possibility of a pilot-run before a wider roll-out. The union will build on improving engagement with young members as part of a freshening-up from the bottom up of policy work and building Labour Party membership and the union’s membership, while opposing the Trade Union Bill.

“We’re going to do more to support you, but we need to do more to recruit more members,” he added. “Don’t think we’re going to be victims all the time. We need to shift to a feeling of wining in the workplace, and, as a result, win more members.”