28 May 2012

The union's Young Members Forum (YMF) stole the show at last weekend's annual conference with a passionate call to all branches to reach out to young workers.

The contribution from the YMF came early on Saturday 26 May and proved inspirational to everyone gathered in Manchester to mark the union's 21st anniversary.

Not suprisingly, the motions on the order paper calling for the YMF to be given formal assistance with organisation were passed unanimously. BECTU's general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, confirmed that the NEC was "100% behind the initiative".

Young reps make an impact

Hannah O'Grady (Writers Producers and Directors) spoke to conference first and was followed by Sam Smith (Royal Opera House). Both have represented BECTU at several TUC Youth Conferences and have been instrumental, with Chris Davies (Commercial West End Theatres), in reaching out to young members, particularly in London and the South East.

Hannah and Sam were then followed by several young members - all new to conference and thus first time speakers - who urged their fellow reps to encourage young workers in their workplaces to take advantage of what BECTU has to offer.

Most importantly, these young members are keen to see more young people involved in shaping the future of the union.

Pre-conference event

The Young Members' Forum showed its commitment to bringing more young people into BECTU by holding a fringe event the evening before conference. All members in the North West under 30 were invited; the invitation was also extended to non-members in Manchester working in the creative sector. More than 50 young people took part.

In the coming weeks and months the YMF will be looking to build links with young members in BECTU across the UK. The team has launched a Young Members' Forum website and invites members across the UK to get in touch.

Emergency propositions

In addition to the motions submitted to conference organisers before the event, several emergency propositions were debated last Saturday. The full list of motions, and how they fared, is set out below. 

Four emergency propositions were accepted for debate at conference:

  • Political Interference in BBC Appointments: the motion condemned Boris Johnson's calls for the next BBC director-general to be a Conservative (Daily Telegraph, 14 May 2012);
  • Beecroft Report: the motion urged the NEC to use all means at its disposal to lobby against this blatant attack on workers' rights;
  • Disability Rights: the motion called for action by BECTU and the TUC in protest at government cuts to care and mobility allowances;
  • National demonstration against austerity, 20 October 2012: the motion instructed the NEC to actively promote the demonstration amongst members.

All of the emergency propositions received the full backing of delegates.

Digital Economy Act

Another highlight of the 2012 conference was the debate on another motion from the Writers, Producers and Directors branch seeking a change in union policy in relation to the Digital Economy Act.

The Act permits ISPs to penalise users who breach copyright law. With powerful arguments on both sides, the motion was defeated on a card vote. The union's commitment to protecting the rights of content creators, and with that future investment in production, remains in place.

Published propositions

  • Young Members' Forum (propositions 1 & 2) - passed
  • S4C (proposition 3) - passed
  • Broadcasting in Wales (proposition 4) - passed
  • Ed Miliband (proposition 5) - passed
  • War in Iran (proposition 6) - passed
  • Credits (proposition 7) - passed
  • Local Employment (proposition 8) - remitted
  • Women's Health and Safety Issues (proposition 9) - passed
  • Digital Economy (proposition 10) - defeated on a card vote.
  • Student Register (proposition 11) - remitted.

A fuller report on annual conference will appear in the June/July issue of Stage Screen and Radio.

Search on twitter using #bectu2012 for conference-related tweets.

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