National Youth Education Event 2015
Aston University Birmingham
Matt Bellamy – Youth Officer-Report Back
Every year the CWU and National Youth Committee organise a weekend education event aimed at members and CWU activists under 30. This year the event was held at Aston University in Birmingham and saw members under 30 from across the country (as well as two members from CWU Ireland) come together for an intensive weekend of education and guest speakers. Below is an overview of the 3 day event.
The evening started with a welcome from the chair of the Youth Committee Ben Adams followed by an ice-breaker session so everyone could get to know a bit about each other.
The morning kicked off with a debate on the upcoming EU referendum and we was lucky enough to have two Labour Party MPs, one for and one against the EU to debate this issue. Before the debate started a vote was held with an overwhelming majority voting to remain within the EU. Emma Reynolds MP gave some very good arguments for the UK to stay as it is including, The EU arrest warrant, the new trade deal with Jaguar Land Rover to build it’s latest models in the UK rather than the cheaper option of India for the basis of easier trade within the EU, also, no other EU country has ever left the EU so it would be impossible to predict what would happen. Kate Hoey MP was against the UK’s membership with the EU and also gave some very good arguments including, trade would get better as it would be easier to trade with worldwide countries, the ability to secure our own trade deals, a Labour government would have the power to better human and workers rights, Royal Mail privatisation would have been potentially avoided, the billions it costs to be a member could go back into critical services like the NHS. I myself asked the question regarding the cost of membership and where did the money go? Emma Reynolds explained that although the true cost is unknown even to the government, money goes into poorer eastern countries in Europe as well as infrastructure and investment. Kate Hoey’s reply was that the UK public never sees a breakdown of money spent and explained that the UK usually is worse off and quoted that, ‘it costs the average family of four over £1,200 a year of their income to remain in the EU’. A vote was then held to see if peoples opinions had changed and the overwhelming majority were now ‘undecided’ over whether to stay or leave.
Afterwards the group was split into separate workshops. I attended the Generation Rent workshop, Generation Rent is a charity campaigning for better housing at an affordable rate. Betsy Dilner (director of Generation Rent) gave a very inspiring speech on the housing crisis that faces the UK, especially in cities and how the richer more densely populated areas of the UK are seeing renting and house prices spiral out of control and how a small box flat can cost more than a 4 bed farmhouse with acres of land in the country side.
Dave Ward (CWU General Secretary) gave an excellent speech on the Youth movement within the union. He expressed how he enjoys attending this event each year and is always left feeling confident of the future of the CWU from the passion and commitment young members have. He also said that the name ‘CWU Youth’ can be misleading and a bit demoralising and said that the name ‘CWU Next Generation’ would be more applicable and attract more young members into becoming activists. Dave also spoke about the Trade Union Bill currently being debated in parliament and how it will have a detrimental effect on all unions right to strike as well as terms and conditions negotiations with employers. I myself had a few minutes alone with Dave and used the opportunity to introduce myself and we talked about the social media campaign for his recent election and his commitment to the youth of the union.
Later in the day a round table discussion was held with Terry Pullinger (Deputy General Secretary Postal) and he spoke on the difficult challenge ahead for the CWU and the recent privatisation of Royal Mail. He said that the Agenda for Growth agreement was a first in the privatised sector and is a great agreement to secure our t&c’s if used correctly. He conducted a Q&A session which most questions were about people wanting to increase from PT to FT and how to go about doing that. Other discussions included, Bespoke D2D’s, Management pressure on members, Management performing OPG work, New pay deal, Unrealistic budgets and targets. I myself did not get the opportunity to ask any questions but the questions raised by others showed problems that seem to be on a National scale.
Simon Sapper (National Officer for CWU and responsible for the Youth movement) gave a speech on the procedures of Youth and General Conference, he explained that motions submitted and debated have a real impact on the CWU and sets policy for the union. Simon gave us a small story on how CWU Youth started and explained how a young activist Dave Westbrook from Eastern Number 5 Branch in Peterborough submitted a motion to conference for a Youth Committee and this motion created what we see today regarding the youth movement within the CWU. He specified how one person created a whole new path for the CWU and how it as brought in new activists who have now excelled to national positions.
Saturday closed with a social event and dinner, the social included a set from Stephen Morrison-Burke a poet who speaks about his life and experiences. Although poetry is not personally my cup of tea, he did have a very good way with words and gave me a picture of his past life.
Began with a Mock Conference where activists got up to speak and debate on motions submitted from the workshop groups from the Saturday. Some great debates and points were heard with first time speakers using the opportunity to gain confidence and experience of speaking at a conference. The day closed at 13:00.
The event was a brilliant way to connect with other young members and I recommend this event to other young members wanting to have more of a say within there workplace/CWU.
Any Questions or Feedback?
Feel Free to contact me… Matt Bellamy
PO BOX 438
PE4 5PE or email… firstname.lastname@example.org
CWU Youth FaceBook Page