CTU Biennial Conference – a youth perspective


Report from PSAY rep at the conference – PSAY National Convenor Maddie Duggan

Young unionists at the CTU conference

Young unionists at the CTU conference

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is the umbrella body for all unions across New Zealand, and has a conference every two years. Each union sends a small delegation for two days of discussions, workshops and planning for the future of our movement.

I was lucky enough to attend the Council of Trade Union conference early October. This was a real eye opener for me as I haven’t been overly active within the union until recently.

There was a clear focus of showing appreciation and fair-welling to our leader Helen Kelly who has stepped down. It was overwhelming to see how much of an impact and inspiration she has been across all the unions. Reflects how one passionate person, with surrounding support, can empower the employees in our country, and give us a voice moving forward.

There were a couple of remits put forward with a youth based focus. One of which was to provide a space for all unions to have a youth network, which passed. Another youth-related remit gave voting rights to the convenors of the CTU-wide youth network, Stand Up.

What was fantastic, and slightly surprising, is there was evidence throughout the two days, of people recognising the need to create a space for development and leadership within the youth. As the baby boomers are now coming to the age of nearing retirement, they are reflecting that in order to maintain the great work they have achieved thus far, they need to nurture and grow the enthusiastic and capable youth. There are some unions out there doing some great work with engaging their youth, and providing a space to offer support and encouragement.

An incredibly inspirational keynote speaker, Anat Shenker-Osorio, talked about the importance of messaging. How to get an effective message across by inspiring the ‘converted’ who then entice the ‘persuadables’ and isolate the opposition. “Leave your policy at home, no one wants to see your policy. Talk about impacts, outcomes.” I HIGHLY recommend, it is a must watch.

Another huge learning for me was listening to Andrea Vance speaking about how New Zealand journalism is changing. Where the experienced confident older reporters being replaced with younger cheaper inexperienced people who don't know the difficult questions.

As a result the powerful institutions are manipulating the media through the inexperience of those reporting. Additionally, due to news being on 24 hour demand, journalists are expected to 'update' the site to keep current. The content is generally not researched sufficiently due to time restraints, and often a press release from an organisation. Therefore we only read what the organisation what’s us to know, not the things that matter. We can take responsibility as news readers by not using the 24 hour available news websites, and not care about what the Kardashians are doing.

Keep doing the things, no matter how small, to encourage change within your workplace and communities. Have those difficult conversations, learn about things that matter, and be strong enough to have a voice for what’s right.