Canary Club hosts Festival of Democracy to get members involved

Generating mass interest and involvement in the union is one of the top priorities of the moment, and reps in Canary Wharf have conjured up some creative ideas to get people talking, including a performance by a socialist magician.

With this year’s branch AGM season bumping up against a crucial second ballot for industrial action over pay, getting members engaged in the democracy of our union has never been more urgent.

At the new government hub in east London, reps from different departments have joined forces as the ‘Canary Club’ to work together on members’ shared issues, and plan activities that will raise awareness of the union.

We wanted to mark the AGM season with a celebration of the democratic nature of PCS and the ability of each member to influence union policy.” – PCS Ofgem rep.

They’re holding a ‘Festival of Democracy’ in February and March, involving different events in the building, including:

  • PCS stalls in the canteen over several lunchtimes, including during the TUC’s Heart Unions week (11-17 Feb) – to recruit new members, answer questions and raise the visibility of the union.
  • Performance by ‘socialist magician’ Ian Saville
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion training event, where participants will learn about the challenges faced by workers from different protected groups, and how to challenge discrimination at work
  • Two-hour democracy event finale, with keynote speaker.

Also coming up in their calendar is an event for Holocaust Memorial Day, where they’ll watch TED talks and sell cakes for a local homelessness charity, and a board game night immediately after their AGM.

One of the PCS Ofgem reps said they’d come up with the idea for the festival during discussions between the branch secretary and organiser, and full-time PCS official Lois Austin.

“We wanted to mark the AGM season with a celebration of the democratic nature of PCS and the ability of each member to influence union policy. AGMs can seem tedious sometimes, but they play a core part in this valuable process, so we thought it would be good to cap them off with something fun.

“The event will also segue into possible dates for the upcoming ballot, so we hope to have built up some momentum for that.”

Regular stalls in the canteen will build up to the main events, to raise the union profile and recruit new members.

“Lots of young people are joining the various employers at Canary Wharf and we have to get them into the union,” said the rep.

“We’ve found that an increased number of different events has raised the profile of PCS, and got people talking and thinking about the union more.”

With departments such as HMRC, MoJ and regulatory agencies all housed together in the new hub, the reps’ cross-departmental work has been “crucial”, he added.

“Many of the issues our members face relate to the building as a whole, so we are strongest when we campaign on them together. We can do more if we share resources.”

PCS is aiming for 25% attendance at all branch AGMs in this important pre-ballot period. Click here for tips on getting members to your AGM.

Updated 11 February 2019

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