National Youth Education Event 2016 (16th October 2016)
On the 16th of October 2016 attended the annual Nation Youth Education Event at the Jury’s Inn in Sheffield. I was greeted by Simon Sapper who is a Nation Officer who deals with CWU Youth. He was accompanied by Jo Thair as she is his PA. I met Simon and Jo for the first time in 2012 when I attended my first NYEE. I was handed a ‘goodie bag’ by Ellie Long who has recently been elected on to the National Youth Committee. The bag contained schedules and information needed for the weekend.
After we had checked into our rooms we headed downstairs for an icebreaker session and introduction from Beryl Sheppard (President) and Tony Kearns (Senior Deputy General Secretary). The icebreaker session was good as it helped us get to know each other. I met people from different businesses, ranging from Telecoms to Royal Mail. I also had chance to meet up with other branch officers I have met over the years at different events.
The next day we had choices of different workshops we could attend. I attended the workshop on the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign which was presented by Joe Rollins. They are fighting to get justice for coal miners who were attacked by the police, fined and jailed at the Orgreave Coking Plant near Scunthorpe in the summer of 1984. I found this workshop informative as I wasn’t born when it had happened and didn’t know much about it beforehand.
The second workshop was on how to ‘Make your MP work for you.’ John Trickett (MP for Hemsworth) ran this Workshop and he gave us an insight into what he does and how to get your local MP to work for you. I really enjoyed this workshop as John told us his background and how he left school with no qualifications but through hard work became the successful MP that he is today.
The main event on Sunday was the mock conference. There were 17 motions of which 9 came from the groups of 8 from the National Youth Committee. As this was a mock conference there were a lot ‘jokey’ motions which were submitted to cause a debate. This mock conference would be a good insight into how conferences work for the new reps. I remember how confused I was at my first mock conference as I had never attended anything like it in my life.
Overall I had a great weekend and would recommend anyone who is interested in attending the next event to contact either myself or the branch to see if places are available.
Branch Youth Officers Forum 21st June 2016 Newcastle
On the Twenty First of June 2016 I made my way to The Newcastle City Library for the Branch Youth Officers Forum. On my arrival I was greeted by Simon Sapper; The Officer to the National Youth Committee and his Personal Assistant and Event Organiser Jo Thair. To kick off the forum Simon proudly made clear the need to make the CWU more relevant and to ensure our young members have a voice. This is where the Youth Officer roll comes in. The roll of a Youth Officer is to interact and represent our members under the age of thirty. Whether this be promoting issues affecting young people or acting as an informal point of contact for the branch.
After an inspirational presentation from Simon we were asked to participate in a group brown paper exercise. The exercise was to write down our first time hearing or seeing any Trade Union. Embarrassingly my first encounter of a Union was watching the film Billy Elliott. The film was set in the North East of England and it showcased the hard times of the working class miners during the bitter Industrial Strike in 1984. I felt this task was great for opening up and learning why people had becoming actively involved within the CWU. It warmed me to know many, like I, were passionate about fighting for the correct treatment of our fellow comrades.
Later in the morning we were given a presentation by the Head of Education and Training, Trish Lavelle. Trish highlighted the benefits of the Unions new Mentoring scheme. The mentoring scheme pairs you with an experienced Union Rep who is skilled in a specific area you wish to gain knowledge of and to progress further in to. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for anybody wishing to ascertain more skills and build confidence. Trish also promoted the CWU’s online education website the Left Click, something I didn’t even know existed before the forum.
For our second group exercise we were split into two groups; New Youth Officers and Experienced Youth Officers. I went into the beginners group and we openly discussed tips and advice for organising events and becoming more interactive with our young members. I found the group session really supportive and it gave me some great ideas for our next regional Youth Event.
Our final exercise of the day was leaning how to write a Motion. We were given a presentation by the majestic Paddy Magill from the Standing Orders Committee. He explained what a motion was and the importance of wording each motion correctly to ensure it is heard and actioned appropriately.
Overall I found the Forum a great informal social and educational event. I gained lots of knowledge and met some amazing people. Roll on the National Youth Event in October!!!
Kayleigh England Youth Officer
Branch Youth Officers Forum
On the 21st of June 2016 I attended one of my last youth events for the branch as I will soon be stepping down as Youth Officer. Kayleigh England will be taking over the role as it is normally filled by someone under who is under 30 years old.
The event was held at Newcastle City library and we were greeted on arrival by Simon Sapper and Jo Thair. Simon is a National Officer and one of his main responsibilities is to look after the CWU Youth. I have met him at numerous youth events so no introduction was needed. He was accompanied by his PA, Jo Thair. I have also met Jo on numerous occasions and she sends out most of the communications around CWU Youth.
After a short introduction from Simon and the team we participated in a group brown paper exercise. The questions we were asked to answer were based around out experiences with trade unions.
The questions were as follows;
• What experience did you have of trade unions before your current employment?
• Was there any reference to unions on your first day at work?
• What made you want to get more involved with the trade union?
• What was your first experience of a trade union like?
We were asked to put the answers on post it notes and stick them to a brown piece of paper. If it was a positive experience we were to put it at the top of the paper and if it was a negative experience we were asked to put it at the bottom of the paper. This gave us an overall idea of what trade union experience we have had.
We had 9 sessions throughout the day and the one I enjoyed the most was where we were split into two groups; New Youth Officers and Experienced Youth Officers. I was in the experienced group and it gave me chance to converse with officers I have met at events and conferences. We discussed an array of different issues the youth face in and out of our workplace.
I found the day informative and I was happy that they catered for current and new Youth Officers. I hope that these forums can continue to run as it was good to see a lot of new faces who were keen to get more involved with the CWU.
Matthew Proud Youth Officer
My First Youth Conference
Saturday 23rd January 2016
This was my first visit to The Mechanics Institute. Standing in awe at this large industrial Grade Two listed building which is surprisingly located just a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of the contemporary city center of Manchester. The building which I now know, holds so much significance to the British Institution and the Trade Union Congress.
I was invited to the Mechanics for the CWU Youth Conference 2016. This was my first time attending a CWU conference and I had no idea what to expect. I attended the conference with my Branch Officer, Assistant Secretary Jean Sharrocks.
Jean put me at ease, explained the timetable and answered all my questions during the conference. After the registration process Jean introduced me to several inspiring CWU members. Each and everyone had a different reason for getting involved with the CWU. It was great to listen and learn more about the CWU and its members.
When seated we where introduced to the General Secretary, Dave Ward. Dave opened the conference with a heart warming speech expressing the importance of bringing young members into the branch, connecting our values and agendas to ensure the next generation of CWU continues to succeed.
The General Secretary’s moving speech touched on the struggles young people are experiencing today, with housing crisis and zero hour contracts. Following Dave’s speech we were introduced to Paddy Magill and Tony Sneddon from the General Standing Orders Committee, who explained the order of business.
We then began to discuss the Motions. This was the first time I had seen or been apart of anything truly like this. Youth members from different branches from all across the country took to the podium to propose action on various issues affecting them or people around them.
There were sixteen motions put forward for discussion. One motion asked for the NEC (national executive committee) to develop a union advice service specifically relating to issues affecting members on housing and rent. Members for and against this motion spoke and eventually this was carried via a majority vote.
The Youth Members I met and listened too during the conference were extremely passionate and had some very inspiring ideas on how we can come together to create change for a better future. I had a fantastic time at the youth conference and met some amazing people. Thank you for the opportunity to attend.
The world of work is changing, zero hour contracts, pressure of targets and performance management to name a few, and so forth. Not only is the world of work changing but for young workers the social environment is becoming tougher with concerns around housing, high rents, pay and so on.
The North East Branch is keen to understand more about your problems but also your aspirations for the future. This is a survey for all members in the CWU under the age of 30 within the North East Branch. Your responses will be kept confidential.
Please click on the following link to complete the survey:
Youth Conference 2016
Reassert trade union values, CWU General Secretary tells Youth Conference
Opening the 2016 Youth Conference, national youth chair Ben Abrams
reminded delegates that the Mechanics
Institute had hosted the meeting at which the TUC was created in 1868. As such, he pointed out that those present represented the latest generation in a long history of struggle for a better deal for working people.
General secretary Dave Ward continued on the same theme in his keynote address – calling for the reassertion of trade union values in society.
“How do you bring through the next generation of trade unionists?” Dave asked – pointing out that challenge has to be a top priority for the movement as a whole.
“A strong youth section means a strong CWU,” said Dave – predicting that “another five years of Tory government would drive inequality deeper and deeper.”
The general secretary branded the Trade Union Bill as an even more regressive measure than any of the legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. “There has not been a harsher time in the past 40 or 50 years than the world of work today. Yet the Government is trying to do down those who stand up for workers,” said Dave.
Recalling a time when it was predicted that with automation and change in the world of work there would be shorter working weeks and more leisure time, Dave pointed out that, instead, working people had seen an “explosion of insecurity.”
Dave urged members across the country to get involved in the day of action against the Trade Union Bill in February.
On February 9 TUC general secretary will host, via an online address and Q&A session, what is being billed as ‘the biggest workplace meeting ever’ – and on 11 February every union is pledging to mount its own day of protest against the bill.
The new general secretary called for the CWU to bring together the industrial and political agendas in the same successful way as was recently evidenced at the Peoples’ Post event in Manchester. Then new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shared a platform with Dave and other union leaders in defence of the postal industry. “We need to make this union more political and stronger industrially,” said Dave, who called for a new deal for workers from the Labour Party.
The new deal should see businesses being looked on favourably by government – provided they have a commitment to British workers, stressed Dave, condemning Labour politicians, who continually say they are pro-business but never mention workers.
Dave praised the CWU’s youth section for pushing housing right up the agenda to the point where it has now become a major priority. He called for the Government to intervene in the market to help resolve the housing crisis.
Dave described Jeremy Corbyn as “a catalyst for change” in the Labour Party and called for those trying to undermine him at the moment to be faced down.
He attacked New Labour for failing to address issues like the housing crisis and poor conditions in the workplace. “We cannot go back to New Labour. People talk about we must have power, but if you are only doing what the Tories would do anyway, then having power is not useful,” said Dave.
Dave also mentioned the reshaping of the CWU. He highlighted declining membership in some areas, arguing that things need to change if the CWU is to remain as a stand-alone independent union.
One major move will see greater resources being devoted so supporting workers in the workplace. “I want reps to be reps in the workplace. The union must be more responsive to workers in the workplace, not less,” said Dave, adding that the union is reviewing the ways in which it communicates its messages under a new head of communications.
He looked forward to the union having a stronger presence in different workplaces. “We are going to reassert union values in our society,” said Dave.
In debate, there was strong support for a motion calling on the NEC to develop an advice service “on housing and rent with legal help and advice.”
Alan Bebbington for the National Youth Committee (NYC) called for action on the housing crisis. “I am 30 and live at home with my Mum- 20 years ago I’d have had my own house by now,” said Alan.
A motion calling for a report looking at what causes stress in the workplace also received support.
Dan Badrick of South Wales branch referred to a doubling of the number of stress related cases over the past year, caused by the growing pressures being imposed by employers. “We need to know why people are suffering stress,” said Dan.
Ryan Case of West Yorkshire branch, and a former national Youth Chair, told how prior to his going off work with stress, he had been told to “just smile and get through it.”
Paddy Meehan of Northern Ireland Telecoms believes that people are being treated like robots in the workplace, with the work overload resulting in burgeoning levels of stress.
Pesh Patel of the national youth committee told of daily meetings he has with management over stress issues. “People don’t realise what individuals are faced with, with workplace stress,” said Pesh.
A related motion, calling for the UK to move in the same direction as Sweden with a six hour working day, with no reduction in salary, received strong backing.
Jamie George of Central Counties and Thames Valley quoted how in Sweden hour reductions had resulted in better productivity. “If an hour were taken off everyone, it could create new jobs,” said Jamie.
Dan Lewis of Bootle Financial Services testified how dropping from 35 to 25 hours a week had improved his health and reduced stress. “Reducing hours will reduce stress levels,” said Dan.
Others warned that reducing hours would just see employers expecting to see the same amount of work done in fewer hours, thereby increasing stress levels.
Billy Hunt for Gloucestershire Amal urged the CWU to use its purchasing power to ensure that it only deals with companies that pay their staff a living wage. Youth Committee member Becca Hufton pointed out that CWU members would not accept being paid poorly – so why should we expect it of others. Conference agreed and the motion was adopted unanimously.
A motion passed calling for the national youth committee to set up a debate with leading politicians for young members over the EU referendum. Not all delegates believed a debate was necessary, as minds were already made up.
Billy Hunt warned that: “the potential of leaving the EU could be tragic for young workers.”
Other motions passed calling for action on alcohol addiction amongst the young, changing the rules on blood donation – currently viewed as systematically discriminating against gay men – and a shadowing scheme for reps.
In the last debate of the day, Dan Lewis from Bootle Financial Services successfully moved a motion championing the Living Wage, which he called to paid universally, and not just to over 25s.
CWUHA chair Carl Webb asked for two volunteers from amongst the youth to drive transit vans on the charity’s convoy to Moldova in September.
Carl described some of the poverty and suffering that the charity had come across in the variety of countries it has visited over the past two decades, Neither was Carl slow to acknowledge that there was much poverty at home that CWUHA is now moving to address.
“Going on these trips changes people’s outlooks- the unbelievable poverty and hardship that we encounter,” said Carl.
A convoy to Moldova in September will include a trailer full of medical supplies. Carl recalled the medical shortages that CWUHA came across as a result of a recent visit when a driver was injured. “We went to the hospital but then had to go out and bring the medical supplies back that were required for the treatment,” said Carl.
Carl described the present as “exciting times for CWUHA”, with hopes riding high that even more people from across the union will become involved in the work.
He pointed out that union members can now go out as volunteers, helping in the classroom in a school in Africa or at the newly formed Phoenix Centre in Moldova.
CWUHA is also looking to set up a football tournament in Moldova. This will involve renovating a rundown local football pitch, with clubs in the UK providing kit and boots for the players.
In summing up the day’s events, national officer Simon Sapper paid tribute to the work of the CWU’s young activists and derided those who claimed young people were too disinterested or disorganised to care about politics.
Pointing to the range of subjects debated, he urged delegates to take heart from the better vision of the future that had underpinned the Conference. “Take this back to your workplaces,“ said Simon. “We have the values and vision. We are the many – and we will prevail.”
Conference agreed that motions on work shadowing and managing stress should go forward to General Conference, and that Jay Bhundia (South West Middlesex) and Dan Badrick (South Wales) should be the delegates to move them.
For more pictures of the conference visit the CWU Youth Facebook page here
2013 Youth Education Event in Blackpool