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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 June 2008

National Shop Stewards Network Conference

Standing up for our rights!

Teachers on strike on the 24th April , photo Paul Mattsson

Teachers on strike on the 24th April , photo Paul Mattsson

The prospects facing the majority of young workers today can only be described as dire. Many young people can only dream of earning a decent wage and carving out a secure future for themselves.

Tracy Edwards, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), young members' organiser

Young workers often feel they have no choice but to accept low pay, unskilled work, bullying management and dangerous working conditions. And this is just the tip of the iceberg - being young nowadays seems to come with many other problems too - we are lazy, work shy and criminals! This according to a government and media that put profit before need and act in the interests of big business.

Young workers need to find a voice and organise an effective fight back through the trade union movement. It is true to say that some trade unions have a better track record of fighting for their members' interests than others, but through the National Shop Stewards Network, young workers can meet and discuss with other rank and file trade unionists and learn many lessons from experienced and committed trade unionists.

Together we can plan how we go about transforming our trade unions into campaigning and fighting organisations that stand up for all our rights.

Young workers are key to transforming the union movement as a whole and offering an alternative to the pro-big business, neo-liberal agendas of the three main political parties. Without young workers becoming active in their union and taking on leading roles and responsibilities, the trade union movement will not grow and the rights of all workers will continue to be eroded.

In the PCS, we have a progressive, fighting leadership who are committed to increasing participation of young workers right the way through our structures. Through the PCS Young Members' Network, young workers are beginning to play crucial national roles within our union.

Perhaps even more crucially, young members in PCS are taking on leading roles within their workplaces. They are challenging the idea that young people aren't interested in trade unions or politics, by getting involved in industrial action and politicising other young members in the workplace.

They are the new workplace leaders - giving other young workers the confidence to speak up and get involved in a fighting organisation that is member-led and committed to protecting public services.

I would urge all young workers, new to trade unions or not, to get involved in the Shop Stewards Network and come to the national conference on 28 June. We have the freshest ideas and are not put off by past defeats or mistakes.

Not only will this event attract other young workers, but it will also ensure that our best union activists, young and older, are given a much needed boost to continue to fight for what is rightfully ours - decent pay, terms and conditions for all!

National Shop Stewards Network Conference

Saturday 28 June, 11.30am-4.30pm. South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London NW1.

Speakers include Bob Crow RMT, Janice Godrich, PCS, Brian Caton POA.
Delegates fee 5. See www.shopstewards.net or ring 020 8522 1156.

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In The Socialist 18 June 2008:

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

Unite and fight against racism

Protest at BNP 'hate festival'

Let AmDani stay!

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