Young Workers – standing up and making a difference

Young Workers

“It’s so important to become a rep in your workplace, to make a difference and to make a change,” said CWU Young Workers National Committee vice-chair Fiona Curtis, as she opened the final session at the union’s branch officers’ forum.

Over 50 CWU Young Worker Officers from branches all over the UK attended the event last Thursday and Friday at the union’s Wimbledon headquarters, where they were welcomed by our general secretary Dave Ward.

“Over the past period, we’ve been consciously trying to take the CWU Young Workers section in a different direction – not telling you all what to do, but for you to be leading on this work as much as possible, with your ideas and your initiatives,” Dave explains, adding that the increased numbers of first-time delegates attending conferences and standing to be workplace reps was evidence that this new approach was bearing positive results.

Day One of the forum kicked off with an Industrial Session, led by Carl Maden and Karen Rose from our postal and telecoms & financial services constituencies respectively.

These speeches kicked off lively debates among the audience about how younger CWU members in particular can become more actively involved in representing members in the workplace and strengthening and taking forward the fight to defend and improve job security, pay, terms and conditions.

And this was followed up by a political report and debate, with guest appearances from CWU activists and former Youth Section members Jennifer Forbes and Gareth Eales – who have been selected as Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.

Jennifer, a former CWU rep in BT, will be fighting the Truro & Falmouth constituency, while Royal Mail area rep Gareth is aiming to turn Northampton red.

Guest speakers Jonathan Webb and George Buskell opened Day Two with a focus on Britain’s housing crisis – particularly in terms of the impact of insecurity, affordability and inequality on younger people.

Jonathan, representing think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) explained in detail how the supply of affordable social housing has been falling further and further behind demand and of the need to give local and regional authorities more power over housing, while George gave examples of how tenants are becoming organised and taking collective action.

“The revolution begins by talking to your neighbour,” he told the forum.

CWU Young Workers National Committee members Fiona Curtis and Scott Hartles brought the event to a close with a session entitled: The Role Of A CWU Young Workers Officer.

“It’s been great to see so many new faces here and new people coming forward,” she began, adding that “it’s so important to become a rep in your workplace, to make a difference and to make a change.

“There’s so much going on all across our union, in Royal Mail with the Four Pillars and the post office campaign and in BT with the Our Hours campaign in particular,” she continued.

“And it’s only in numbers and organisation that gives us our collective strength to make that change.”

In his closing message, Dave Ward thanked everyone for their attendance, as well as the organisers of the event, describing it as a “great success.

“It’s brilliant that over these past couple of days there’s been such a strong attendance here – more people than we had expected.

“And finally, the best of luck to those of you who are standing for election in the forthcoming national and regional elections.”