Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/424/4962
PCS youth conference success
THE YOUTH Forum of the civil service union PCS, held on 14/15 January, was the first national conference of the PCS Young Members' Network. It was very successful with about 100 young delegates attending from across the country.
These young trade unionists were enthusiastic and determined to build their union and campaign on many issues facing young people. The success of this conference owes much to the commitment and the determination of the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) to transform PCS into a campaigning, organising union that takes its young members seriously.
The Young Members' Network has so far had a loose, informal structure in order to encourage young members new to union organisation to get involved and take on positions within the union. This was reflected in the conference structure, which was not a formal, motions-based event.
One of the main purposes of the conference was to develop a PCS Youth Charter to give the young members a campaigning programme.
We had a number of panel discussions interspersed with four different workshops. These covered issues like pay, pensions, union structures and social justice, including women and anti-racism. The Youth Charter, as amended by the workshops, was discussed and agreed by the delegates. It will go to the NEC to be ratified and will be voted on at the PCS national conference.
Ben Robinson, an organiser for International Socialist Resistance (ISR), was a guest speaker for the Know Your Rights at Work campaign, which is co-ordinated by ISR nationally.
The Know Your Rights campaign organise 'end low pay' stalls with petitions, placards, leaflets and lively displays including a 'name and shame' board listing the employers that pay below the minimum wage.
We held a successful ISR fringe meeting which was extremely positive. We also widely publicised the ISR national conference on 4 March.
ISR members and supporters initiated a debate on the need for the PCS youth section to establish democratic structures, including the election of the convenors and a national chair. We think this is vital if the Young Members' section is to become an effective and accountable part of PCS's overall democratic structures. The conference had an advisory vote and overwhelmingly supported the election of a national chair and the establishment of democratic structures.
The Forum was a tremendous success and should be an inspiration for all young trade unionists on what can be achieved with a determined, campaigning union like PCS.
In The Socialist 26 January 2006: