2013 has been a tough year for young members. Even as we’re told the economy is recovering, it’s clear that it’s only a recovery for the rich being paid for at the expense of ordinary working people. For civil servants we’ve faced another imposed 1% pay rise, a further degradation of our terms and conditions (Performance Management being a key issue for many young reps), threats of privatisation and the running down of services.
For me, a big chunk of the blame for why the austerity continues is the TUC’s response (or rather total lack of) and the spinelessness of the Labour Party to provide any alternative. Since the sellout of the pension dispute after the biggest strike in the UK’s history for negligible gains, the TUC’s big plan has been little more than a “battle bus” tour.
Yet, even in these bleak times we in the PCS continue to fight and gain concessions. The action we have taken to date, both at a national and group level, has clearly ensured that the attacks have been less severe and watered down and have only been implemented piece meal. We’ve achieved pay rises for the lowest paid, compensation for FTA’s, won recruitment in some groups and knocked back attempts to end check off in DCLG to name but a few examples. The Young Members Network and young activists across the country have played a key role in many of these disputes and have helped deliver the national campaign at every level of the union. Other milestones for the network include our direct contribution to the national consultation, our involvement in the TUC Young Members Forum, getting our motion passed at the TUC and we’ve held one of the most successful Young Workers Weeks we’ve had in recent years.
On a personal level, it’s also being a tough year for the committee. Lots of young member reps graduated/retired from the network this year, including some key activists and convenors. The flip side of this is almost all of them have gone on to take leading roles in their branches, regions and groups, showing that our network continues to deliver in building the next generation of activists. On top of this, that for every rep who moves on another YM steps forward to take his place and it continues to inspire me the level of commitment, passion and enthusiasm young members bring to the network, the union and our movement.
So what now for 2014? With other unions having now moved into dispute, such as the FBU and UCU and the continuing of the teacher unions action, the potential for joint action is back on the agenda and the TUC continues to be put under pressure to take a lead. The TUC will be hosting its first National Young Workers month in March, after years of the PCS lobbying, which is a significant step forward in putting youth campaigning back on the TUC agenda. Already, plans are being put in place for a range of activities and we’re looking forward to celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of the setting up of the Network.
Whatever happens this year, the fight will continue and the PCS Young Members will be at the forefront, fighting for our future.
In Solidarity, and Happy New Year!