Sunday, 10 May 2009

Youth Fight for Jobs Launch Conference

Somewhere between 100 and 150 (the room made it a bit awkward to tell, plus people who were there either only in the morning or afternoon) attended the launch conference of the Youth Fight for Jobs. After some good opening speeches by Alex Gordon from the RMT executive (speaking in place of Bob Crow), Tracy Edwards from the PCS, James Kerr and a Belgian CWI member, the timing of the rest of the opening session clearly went awry as they jammed in a few short contributions from a Tamil student, a member of the SP from South Wales speaking about the sacking of Linamar (ex-Visteon) convenor, Rob Williams and a hip-hop group At Risk of Offending. There simply was too much stuff attempted to be fitted in which meant that the plan of having contributions from the floor didn’t really work.
After a short lunch break the conference split up into workshops. I had been asked to chair the session on ‘What Is The Cause of Unemployment?’ Given it was only a small session (I think the debate on the European elections attracted the most attention), we were able to get into a bit of depth on Marxist economics and also able to discuss the working conditions of those who do have jobs too.
The next session took motions to the congress, all those submitted (which can be found on the Youth Fight for Jobs website) were passed, although a few of them were amended slightly, whilst the age limit for the campaign was remitted to the newly elected steering committee to discuss.
The Conference concluded with a closing rally with a speaker from the CWI in France, a Lindsey Oil Refinery worker and Sean Figg, the newly elected National Organiser for the campaign.
Speaking with comrades after the conference, we were a little disappointed with the attendance, but this is partially due to a number of reasons. In North Wales, it was a combination of lack of money to pay for people getting to London as well as several college students who have been grounded until their exams are over.
Yet the composition of the conference was fairly good. There were a sizeable number of young PCS members there, indeed the PCS Young Members Committee had submitted several motions to the conference as well as the East Midlands PCS NOMS branch and the Student organiser for UNITE was in attendance. In contrast to what a certain ex-member of the Socialist Party has been repeatedly stating online, whilst including university students in the campaign, it isn’t dominated by them as the presence of a substantial number of young workers at the conference showed. Indeed, the delegation from North Wales consisted of a college student and a shop steward.
The conference also received greetings from the workers who occupied the Prisme factory and featured sessions with speakers from the Lindsey Refinery dispute and one of the Visteon Conveners. From a shaky start with the morning session, the conference finished on a good note, despite me missing the last train back to Bangor.


Phil BC said...

Looks excellent - we'll be hearing a report at our branch on Thursday.

Re: attendance - I guess it's a funny time of year. Most students are locked into exams and would be hard pressed to come down to the conference.

Also by was of a reply to a certain ex-member, it's wrong to sniffily look down on students seeing as around half have to support themselves with jobs through university and ALL will be facing roughly the same difficulties of finding work when they graduate. This is why the campaign is for them as well as so-called "proper" workers.

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