Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/611/8824
PCS young members network conference
Almost one hundred young civil servants gathered in Birmingham to discuss continuing to build the PCS young members' network in 2010. Held on 6-7 February, it was an excellent weekend with a focus on fighting cuts, organising in the workplace and supporting initiatives such as the 'Youth Fight for Jobs' campaign.
National chair Alan Warner outlined the challenges public sector workers face, confronted with the drive to make massive cuts, but confidently promoted the idea that young members, and PCS as a whole, can fight and win against job massacres.
National youth organiser Tracy Edwards added that PCS young members have made progress in building a strong base and she put forward a programme that will see our network grow further.
Reflecting the progressive approach of PCS to organising, the conference offered a wide and varied range of discussions. Sessions on the climate change argument, tackling under-representation, organising in call centres and protecting public services were well received.
A hustings session for the election of chair of the national youth committee offered delegates a chance to decide who will lead our network in 2010. Current chair and Left Unity candidate Alan Warner outlined plans to continue to build a strong voice for young workers. Challenger Rosie Huzzard, an independent left candidate and member of Alliance for Workers' Liberty put forward a confusing alternative calling for an end to "ineffectual" two day strikes but attacking PCS for not being militant enough! Alan's measured and serious approach won by 45 votes to 17.
The highlight of the conference was a panel discussion on alternatives to public sector cuts. PCS president Janice Godrich attacked the main political parties for their disgraceful treatment of working class people and called for support for initiatives like the People's Charter, and for greater public ownership.
Ben Venables from Climate Solidarity warned of bosses using the 'green agenda' to close offices and cut jobs. He called for investment in green jobs and industry.
TUC youth officer Matt Dykes dismissed the myth that budget deficits are due to fatcat public sector wages but fell short of putting forward an alternative.
He accepted the logic of the market, saying we need to reform it to change society. He faced tough questions from the floor about the TUC's role in the postal and BA disputes.
Sean Figg, from Youth Fight for Jobs outlined the role young trade unionists can play in protecting jobs. He commented that it would be disingenuous to say that unions shouldn't be political, and highlighted the need for a socialist alternative. It was refreshing to see socialism introduced in a positive and concrete way at a union event.
Each regional young members' section has committed to setting up a Youth Fight for Jobs group in their area and will be planning activity on recruiting in workplaces, promoting trade unionism in schools and participating in the PCS campaign to protect redundancy rights for civil servants.
In The Socialist 10 February 2010:
Unison general secretary election
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
PCS young members
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
War and occupation