PCS Young Members’ Forum
Young workers get organised
The third Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) young member’s forum took place over 1-3 February. The forum brought together young members and reps from across the country and from all sections of the civil service to discuss building the PCS and encouraging and training young activists.
The forum focused on workshops to develop young members’ skills in recruiting and organising in the workplace. There were also discussions on how the PCS young members’ network will campaign this year as well as building links with youth networks in other unions such as the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
PCS President Janice Godrich opened the forum, highlighting the role of the PCS as a fighting union that had protected jobs, pensions, pay and conditions in the face of New Labour’s neo-liberal onslaught on public services. She emphasised the importance of strengthening the union by recruiting young workers and developing them as organisers.
The forum then broke into workshops including: Organising call centre workers, Recruiting and building the young members’ network and Taking the young members’ charter forward.
The forum elected officers to a National Young Members’ committee. It decided to focus on campaigning on low pay and taking up issues young call centre workers face, such as constant intrusive monitoring and targets.
There was also a panel discussion on how to make trade unions relevant to young people. The panel was: Steve Ratcliffe, CWU youth development officer, Raj Jethwa, TUC and Jacqui Berry, President of Medway trades council.
Raj talked about the TUC’s initiative in raising the importance of trade unions in schools. Steve highlighted that the unions had to fight back and defend workers’ conditions otherwise they would have no legitimacy in the eyes of young workers. He gave the example of the recent industrial action taken by the CWU and how this had enthused young members.
Jacqui raised the need for unions to show a consistent fighting lead in disputes so they can win the confidence of young workers. She gave the examples of the recent JJB sports and Defra, agriculture department, disputes where young workers in struggle and been brought into the unions.
She made the point that the unions who had taken action against the government’s and bosses’ attacks such as the PCS and the RMT rail union were more attractive to young workers.
It was clear from the workshops and the whole forum that PCS has been successful in organising young workers who are fighting back against the attacks of the bosses and New Labour.