In October this year I attended the ITF Youth Summer School in Madrid along with 42 other participants made up of ITF staff and Union representatives from around the globe.
The theme of the Summer School was Education for Organising. The sessions during the week which we worked on formed around this theme:
- Precarious Workers and organising them;
- Struggles that have taken place outside the workplace in your union;
- Social Media;
- Strategic campaign organising; and
- HIV/AIDS (safe sex).
The Summer School was an excellent opportunity to exchange information and generate new ideas with like-minded young trade unionists.
Many discussions were had with comrades from around the globe both during the school and with a Cerveza (beer) in hand after the day's work.
The one issue that kept coming up throughout the week for me was various countries' political situations and how they are being run by capitalist radicals with no laws or legislation in place to protect workers' rights or human rights for that matter.
We are lucky in Australia to be unionists who have a voice and a legal right to fight for what we believe in; and a Labor Federal government in power with former trade unionists that are not attacking workers or workers rights.
In NSW on the other hand we see the alternative to the Labor party with the NSW Liberals attacking public sector workers with worse industrial relations laws than Howard had in place.
So what can we do? Get trade unionists into political positions who are not going to be there for a political career based on personal greed and who will look after Australia's greatest asset - THE WORKER.
Meeting fellow transport workers was the stand out part of the course for me and I look forward to working and spending time with them in the future to create better working lives for the people we represent in our unions and countries.
I would also like to thank M.U.A National office and the sections of Newcastle Port that donated funds to support my trip away.
Strength In Unity
Information on the work of the ITF young workers can be found here: http://www.itfglobal.org/youngworkers/index.cfm
Eddie,19, is a linesman with Svitzer and the secretary of the NNSW branch youth committee.
The MUA national youth committee will be holding a one day Young Workers conference preceding National Conference in February 2012.
The MUA's commitment to giving the youth of our union a voice will continue as under 35's currently make up 15% of our membership.
Each branch has a youth committee representative and they will set the agenda for the youth conference. The committee and delegates to the conference will formulate their plan for the future.
The ITF has put out a news story about the Summer School, which you can read HERE.