Participants in the TUC Big Youth Debate as part of Young Workers' Month.
Rejuvenating effects: How CWU made the most of Young Workers’ Month
TUC Young Workers’ Month (November 2014) helped raise the already-high profile of youth activity within the CWU. People all around the union responded actively to the encouragement they were being given from not just inside the CWU, but from across the TUC family.
Our National Youth Committee drew up a list of objectives for themselves and the rest of union during September and October. So it was pleasing to see a positive reaction to their energy and ideas. Our Communications department heavily promoted Young Workers Month and CWU’s contribution to it both through member communications and in stories to the media.
Our two big industrial departments played a leading role as well. On the telecoms side of the union, we developed new youth-specific recruitment literature. This built on the branding and design ideas of our CWU Youth arm. And our national Postal Executive Committee convened a special session to hear the concerns and aspirations of young postal sector activists.
We launched a union-wide survey, inviting young members to say what they would do if they ran the CWU. We have had a really good response and the challenge now, of course, is to translate those aspirations as much into reality as we can.
We also made sure that the union was well represented at over-arching events organised by the TUC. Dan Lewis, Jon Eaton and myself took part in the Big Youth Debate at Congress House on 15 November. And our National Youth Committee Chair, Ben Abrams was part of the delegation on the TUC’s first ever Youth Leadership course at the end of the month.
We also used the opportunity of Young Workers Month to target older colleagues and revised the guidance we give to them about how to best work with young members. We produced a podcast in which practical examples and best practice were shared by branch, regional and national representatives. (You can listen at http://cwuyouth.podbean.com)
It is fair to say that the union as a whole found taking part in Young Workers’ Month really energising. There was a healthy and friendly rivalry between different groups to see who could contribute what over the course of the month.
But also through the TUC organised events, CWU Youth has made a load of new contacts, both within the TUC family and on wider issues such as housing, where we look forward to working more with campaign group Generation Rent.
It was easy for everyone to recognise Young Workers’ Month as being a good idea for the union. But having the idea is the easy part; developing a coherent and comprehensive programme takes resources, application and diligence. We’d like to thank the Congress House team and in particular Carl Roper and Lauren Usher for their tenacity in creating a programme and structure which we in the CWU certainly benefited from.