Rebecca Barr's Blog on STUCYF 16

On the weekend of the 2nd & 3rd of July myself and Sarah Spencer attended the STUC Youth Conference in Clydebank as delegates for PCS. Having attended PCS conference in Brighton as a trainee delegate a few months prior, I was keen to get involved and get my voice heard.

We had met prior to conference along with Sarah Wiktorski and Julie Young to discuss the motions and prepare to speak on those that we felt strongly about. It would my first time speaking and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The two Sarah’s were a great help to me when drafting my speeches, providing invaluable insight and feedback. The idea of speaking in front of a room full of people was a bit daunting but thankfully it turned out I didn’t have anything to worry about.

The conference was fairly small in comparison to ADC in Brighton and the environment felt quite relaxed so everyone seemed comfortable to speak and network.

Conference began with a discussion around a prepared statement relating to recent political activity and the EU referendum, emphasising support for migrants in Scotland.

The initial workshops offered a chance to meet colleagues from different unions such as Unite, Unison and GMB. It was interesting to find that the different unions were dealing with similar issues within their own workplaces, and that we were for the most part working towards a common goal with the same principles at our core.

The controversial motion calling for support of renewal of Trident was the first speech we were involved in. PCS spoke in opposition and the motion was unanimously opposed.

Sarah delivered a passionate speech about the HMRC office closures and a motion calling to end age disparity within rates of pay.

I also spoke on support for construction apprentices, emphasising that the STUC should support all apprentices, particularly as HMRC has had a recent influx of Surge apprentices.

PCS also spoke in support of campaigns to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

Sarah moved the emergency motion on the V&A in Dundee and GMB moved a motion in relation to the assassination of Jo Cox, followed by a one minute silence.

Sarah delivered a brilliant speech on behalf of PCS explaining the implications of removal of check off – urging other unions to take this step now before it is forced upon them as it has helped PCS grow stronger as a result. Despite being a smaller union than the likes of Unite, I think Sarah’s speech put across well how resilient PCS can be with the commitment of dedicated members.

Andrew Crosbie, the Young Members Officer of Union delivered an excellent presentation on tackling bullying & harassment within the workplace, along with Terry Anderson & Ian Tasker.

The discussion around the STUC unions into schools presentation was very interesting. It was highlighted that many young people are unaware of unions and the programme aims to provide support and information to students. Both myself and Sarah have signed up to the training and hope to get involved with the students that will be tomorrows workforce.

Sarah Collins & Kieran McCallum of the Better Than Zero campaign delivered a session on the fantastic work the project is doing, and a video was shown presenting the highlights of their campaign so far. I think the project definitely appeals to young members in particular, as the video highlighted how fun the campaigns can be, and the excellent outcomes the campaign has already produced.

The highlight of the weekend was PCS’s very own Sarah Spencer being awarded the Jimmy Waugh memorial trophy for services to youth. I haven’t been active in PCS for very long and I am continually inspired by Sarah’s commitment and the passion she shows within her role. She is definitely a very deserving winner!

Overall, the weekend was a great success with all motions we spoke in support of being carried. Despite my initial nerves, everyone was friendly and supportive, so speaking wasn’t quite as terrifying as I had anticipated. Perhaps now I’ll be prepared for ADC next year..

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