Young members gain the tools to organise

Securing Unites future by training next generation

Reading time: 5 min

Unite recently ran a course for young members to give them the tools to become effective reps and organise in their workplaces.

The Young Member Education Course took place over a week in Birmingham in June and aimed to equip young members and reps with a knowledge of Unite’s structures, break down some of the trade union jargon then can be a barrier to people getting involved with union activities.

The course offered an opportunity to come together in a relaxed training environment to learn more about Unite and how to get involved. 

There were sessions on the Union’s International, Political, Industrial and Environmental Policies and Campaigns – learning ways to build effective campaigns around these areas. 

There was also a chance for the delegates to embrace their creative side. They worked together to create short films for a mock campaign they planned during the week. 

Delegates at the course came from a number of areas that Unite organise in, including finance, hospitality and the community sector

Following the course Umerah Bhatti, a finance worker from the London and Eastern region, said, “I learnt a lot of things this week on the young members course. How young members can build a future in terms of how we do things in the union, and in terms of things like using digital and social media.”

Callum, also from London and Eastern works in Unite’s Community, Youth Workers and Not for Profit sector, added, “The most beneficial thing for me has been how to organise younger workers. A lot of the time a lot of us can be working on precarious contracts in lots of different workplaces.”

The group shared experiences of work in different sectors, practised public speaking in front of a supportive group, and looked at issues around the future of work and the impact of AI on jobs.

Union officers from across Unite, including Barry Faulkner and Rob Miguel attended to offer insights in the Unite campaigns around tackling the far right and health and safety at work.

Dara Basketfield, a finance worker from Northern Ireland, said it was particularly positive to network with fellow members and meet “a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds and cultures.”

“We’ve all been able to feed off each other and get a better understanding of what it’s like to grow up where the other person lives, and what sort of issues impact on those people.”

Frazer Lake is Unite National Coordinator for Young Members. Frazer organised the course with Unite Education and said, “I started as a Member and a Rep when I was 17, and honestly without the Union, I would not have a job. Now more than ever young members are needed in a trade union.”

“Decisions should not be made about us without us.”

Frazer explained, “Some people say that ‘Young Members are the future’ – I say that we are the here and now. Having bespoke young members events like this supported by our General Secretary and Director of Equalities & Education is great because it allows us to focus on issues that are predominantly, and disproportionately disadvantaging, workers purely on the basis of our age.”

“We need to stand up and get organised. In 10-15 years, the majority of the current membership will retire. The onus is on each and every one of us to secure the future of the Trade Union Movement that is led for us and by us.”

All the delegates agreed that the course was hugely beneficial and would encourage other young members to get involved on future courses.

Frazer added, “If anyone would like support in their workplaces or need some guidance on how to get more involved more with Young Members, please reach out to me.”

You can contact Frazer at [email protected]

By Keith Hatch