There is one particular event in the PCS calendar that perfectly demonstrates the very essence of what a trade unions is and what it should continue to be. That event is of course the annual delegate conference which takes place every year upon the sun soaked(not always the case) piers of Brighton.
Starting bright and early on 23 May and carrying on into the early afternoon of the 25 May hundreds of delegates from every corner of the country descend upon Brighton Conference Centre to vocalise their branches' motions in an attempt to retain or change union policy at both group and national level.
At this year’s conference I was fortunate enough to secure a trainee delegate position which was an incredibly exciting prospect seeing as I was a relatively new member. Before attending conference, I admittedly had a very poor understanding of the national PCS structure and how conference functions to ensure that union policy is determined as fairly and efficiently as possible. So what better way to get a grasping on the event than to be on the front line and providing a helping hand in the events proceedings?
As a trainee delegate not only was I able to observe conference as delegates took their turn on the rostrum to move their respective branches motions, I also got to participate in a number of different learning activities and workshops intertwined with the ongoing debates within conference.
All of which meant I was able to gradually build up a knowledge and understanding of what the annual delegate conference achieves for its members and how locally-discussed ideas at your AGM can eventually be received and implemented on a national level by the NEC.
It was certainly impressive to witness how delegates articulated themselves so effectively from the rostrum with many motions making a lasting impression on myself and evidently on the rest of conference with some speakers receiving a rapturous applause.
Conference is not strictly business however, with every night providing a range of social activities for all members and delegates to involve themselves in and what better city to push the boat out than Brighton. The city is home to some of the best watering holes in the country with a top standard fish and chips always only ever a stone's throw away.
All in all, the experience was truly amazing and I returned to Birmingham feeling empowered knowing that as a PCS member, I have contributed to the great debate that defines us a union. I whole-heartedly recommend the event to any young member and recommend that they register their interest with their branch in becoming a trainee delegate for 2018’s conference sooner rather than later.