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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 May 2019

Building a fighting union at Unite young members' conference

Unite the Union, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Unite the Union, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

'Jeremy Davidson', Hull Socialist Party and Unite the Union member

On 18-19 May myself and 60 other delegates made the journey to Eastbourne, for the national young members conference of Unite the Union. This event shone a light on the attitude of many young workers towards capitalism and building fighting trade unions.

At the conference Unite's assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, opened a discussion on combatting the threat of the far-right. During the questions and contributions part of the discussion I put forward how a socialist case for Brexit would cut across the far-right and unite workers to fight austerity.

This speech was well received with praise and applause from young people there. To me this demonstrated a brilliant rejection of the capitalist, Remainer narrative which the likes of Blairites in the Labour Party put forward.

The conference also voted on motions, with one, 'Fair Wages for Young Workers', calling for the exploitation of workers under 25 to end, and supported Labour's recent announcement that the party's pledge for a 10 an hour minimum wage be extended to all workers.

Another motion on apprenticeship pay rightly condemned the scandalous, despicable wages of apprentices, some as low as 3.90 an hour!

It was demanded that all apprentices be paid at least the minimum wage and to fight the exploitation which bosses and corporations impose upon young apprentices. These passed with unanimous support.

Marketing?

To our surprise, this was followed by a presentation from a marketing company called King Campbell and Friends about how we can build the union for young people.

As the presentation progressed, it became clear that someone in the union had made a decision, without consulting us or our young members committee, to hire a private, capitalist agency, to design a campaign to attract young people to join our union.

Ludicrous ideas were proposed such as a 10% discount for Unite members at online retailer ASOS or Pizza Express - two non-union friendly businesses!

With a quick Google search we found that the company's clientele included EasyProperty, a sister company of EasyJet, which our members had a dispute with last year! These shocking revelations combined with a complete lack of understanding of trade union work, made for a grim response to the presentation.

However, the presenter's idea of putting the "politics to the side" was the straw which broke the camel's back, and a barrage of flack and discontent from across the room followed.

Hand upon hand went flying up in the air, with young members making comments like: "Who thought this was a good idea?" and "We will not reach young people by offering them free pizza! We will reach them by offering them decent terms and conditions and good jobs to fight for!"

I found the conference to be an uplifting experience, with young workers rejecting capitalism and being prepared to fight and organise for a socialist society!

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In The Socialist 22 May 2019:


International socialist news and analysis

What lies behind the US-China trade war?

Sri Lanka - Ten years after the brutal end of the war

Reject Alabama abortion ban


News

Labour's nationalisation plan: What policies are needed to avert climate catastrophe?

British Steel threatened closure


What we think

European elections expose deepening political crisis: Workers need a party of our own


Workplace news

Birmingham home carers victory

Probation workers celebrate case management renationalisation

Fantastic RMT London Underground victory

Woolwich ferry workers begin ten days of strike action

Morrisons workers reject pay offer

Unite young members' conference

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

4 June - Walk out against Trump! Climate criminal not welcome

Domestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

Haringey: Socialists' stance fully vindicated

Anger and frustration at the establishment

Lifting the mood

Socialist sales boost

Pouring cold water on the Riverside estate

Worcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

Day of action against cuts to special needs education


Opinion

Opinion: socialists must link climate struggle to power of organised workers

The Socialist Inbox


 

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