Saturday, July 7, 2007

Labour Link Forum

I've just got back home after UNISON's Labour Link Forum, where I was a delegate on behalf of the National Young Members Forum.

We were supposed start off with Hilary Benn as our Key note speaker, but unfortunately as the new Environment Secretary (and Sheffield MP) he was busy dealing with the devastating floods across Yorkshire. We had the last minute replacement of Hazel Blears, who is now in a key position for UNISON as Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities.
Hazel also has ties with UNISON having been a branch secretary and chair in NALGO, one of our founding unions. She said some good things about listening to staff and always comes across as a decent politician when you see her in person (though we obviously have some significant political differences). On equal pay she was clearly overwhelmed by the underfunding of single status for local government, I hope that she will be able to tackle this issue which is so vital for our local government members.
I moved a motion which the National Young Members Forum had submitted on Young People and Labour. The motion sets out UNISON's support for reforming Young Labour and the key principles that this reform should take; UNISON's continued support for Young Labour and Labour Students (with the possibility of funding a full time Youth Officer for the Labour Party); and a commitment for Labour Link to work with UNISON's Young Members Forums to engage more of our young members in Labour Link and the Labour Party. I am glad to say that this passed unanimously and I look forward to working with Labour Link and young APF levy payers on delivering this policy.

It was a good event, with a relaxed atmosphere which meant it was easy to get to know other delegates. It was disappointing that there were not many young members there, with just our current NYMF chair Anne True the only young member there as a voting delegate. Hopefully the work on engaging young members in Labour Link will mean that this improves in future years.