#AskFrances - Live Twitter Q&A with Young Workers

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Ben Abrams

27 March 2014

AskFrancesI took part in the first ever live chat with Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, who was hosting a live twitter Q&A session with young workers as part of the TUC's fair pay month.

Many questions were asked of Francis via twitter, using the hashtag #askFrances.

I was very lucky to have two of my questions answered by Frances.

Ask Frances - Ben 1Firstly, I asked a question on recruitment - specifically about the vision achieved of simple, single signup to a union. Potential members may know they want to join a union, but a common confusion is that people are not sure which union they should join, or are allowed to join. The TUC could do more to make union membership more accessible. Where single sign-ups is quite a bold vision, Frances did say in her reply that we have to make it easier for people to join and to "watch this space".

AskFrances - Ben 2My second question was towards helping particularly smaller unions grow membership. Not a question so much directed through my experiences in the CWU, as I feel we are a very strong specialised union, but to some of the smaller unions - our close friends in BECTU for example. I want to see the TUC do more to assist smaller unions, that don't have the resources to throw at recruitment or training like larger unions, such as UNISON or UNITE the Union. My question was not an attack on large unions, nor a criticism of smaller unions, but more of a comment on the collective responsibility all unions have to each other. If one union fails, the movement as a whole suffers.

Some fine questions were also asked of my friends and colleagues, notably @MissOakden286 - a member of the NUT who had recently been on industrial action, asking how we can promote unions to sixth form pupils - our closest, potential members.

@WorthSarah of GMB - how do we build hope and aspiration of young members. Significantly crucial in a country where young members are disengaging from politics resigning themselves to the fate of the oppressive policies.

And finally, @debbielouise20 asking on what advice can be given to young women trade unionists wanted to get involved in union leadership. In our strive for membership proportionality, I was poised for Frances's answer although sadly a bit if a wavering response.

A full list of all the questions can be seen online athttp://strongerunions.org/2014/03/26/askfrances-live-twitter-qa-with-young-workers/.

Well worth a quick read!