My first union event - the National Youth Education Event 2016
Report by Dan Treasure, delegate from Bristol and District Branch
I am 22 years of age, and have been a postman for over 5 years; both my father and grandfather were also Bridgwater postmen.
I have been a member of the Bridgwater Delivery Office CWU Committee for a few months now, but this was my first CWU event.
I met my two Bristol Branch colleagues, Nebo and James, on the train on the way to Sheffield.
First up on Friday evening the 65 or so delegates were welcomed by Beryl Shepherd, CWU National President, and the national youth committee chair. Tony Kearns, CWU senior deputy general secretary, then spoke to us.
The “Icebreaker session” aimed at getting us to know one another, and this worked! I met a couple of lads from BT who I got to know better in the bar later: we talked about how different our jobs were, and how strong was the union in different branches.
After dinner I had a good discussion with James, a Patchway delivery postman, and we talked about the differences between working in a big city to working out in the sticks.
We heard from Joe Rollins of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, who are fighting to get justice for the coal miners who were attacked by the police, fined and jailed at the Orgreave Coking Plant near Scunthorpe in the summer of 1984 - a long time ago!
My group session was about the London Recruits against Apartheid, British men and women who risked jail smuggling in ant-racist leaflets into white-run South Africa back in the 1960’s.
I found this interesting and inspiring!
Unfortunately Dave Ward, our general secretary, was unable to come. That was a shame, but I hope to meet him in Bridgwater soon!
The afternoon group session was first spent sorting out what motions our group could put to Sunday’s mock conference. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on, or what topics we could put forward, after a while I realised what was needed and I decided to suggest nuclear power and fracking as topics that could get a real debate! They were not selected for conference motions but I didn’t mind as other topics chosen were still good ones.
The Industrial Round table discussions were a bit heavy for me as most of the questions I didn’t know a lot about.
The Saturday night social consisted of an evening meal a pop quiz, and a raffle from which the proceeds were donated to Papyrus - the national UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide in the UK.
The evening was rounded off by a trip to the pub and a club.
Sunday’s main event was the mock conference. There were 17 motions of which 9 came from the workshop groups and 8 from the national youth committee. Our London Recruits workshop group had three motions, on the Calais Refugee “jungle”, on the conditions of the Palestine postal workers, and, finally, supporting the Junior Doctor’s strike.
The first conference debate was about Calais, so I was the first conference speaker! This was a bit nerve-wracking! I compiled my own speech from some information given to me by Simon Sapper, from people who had already been over to Calais to support the refugees there. I spoke about the unaccompanied children, the importance of sending support in the form of water, food and money. I had three minutes to move this motion, after two minutes the light goes from green to amber, then red after three! I just reached amber so my first ever speech had taken two minutes. I thought I did OK, but next time I will try and look up to the room more.
Our group opposed the motion calling for mandatory political education in secondary schools. I spoke and said that there was a lot of political information ‘out there’ providing you go out and look for it.
I had a problem with the review of the event! This was because a lot of information given out here should have been told to us at the start! This would have helped the likes of us who had never been to any CWU event before understand how the event was going to be run.
All in all, I had a really good time, it was a worthwhile experience, and would like to go to a similar event in the future.
I would like to thank my branch, Bristol and District Amal, for choosing me and funding my trip to Sheffield.
Bridgwater CWU Office Committee member