Report on PSI Youth & OSRAC meeting in Sydney
On 19 March the Public Service International (PSI) held its first youth affiliate meeting in Sydney, before a wider Oceania PSI meeting.
PSA organiser Nick Kelly attended both meetings as one of the two Oceania youth reps. Katie Rowsell, a former PSA delegate now working for the Australian Community Public Service Union (CPSU) is the other Oceania youth rep, so the PSA are certainly making ourselves known!
There were 10 attendees at the youth meeting, representing 5 affiliate unions and 3 countries. The aim of the meeting was to introduce young people to PSI and its work, as well as giving them a taste of the issues that PSI deals with on a global basis.
Katie Rowsell gave a presentation called "PSI: Opportunities for Youth", highlighting the opportunities that PSI offers young people to get their message out there and to develop leadership skills. Solidarity with our fellow unionists from around the world, and meeting leaders in our movement were also pointed out as big pluses for being involved.
One of the focuses of the meetings was the Robin Hood Tax campaign. This is a proposed small tax on the banking and finance sector which would raise significant revenue that could be put into public services.
Paul Collier from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, gave examples of how his union is active on this tax justice issue. The group then went and had a photo shoot wearing the Robin Hood hats, much to the fascination of the public. PSI has been working on the Tax Justice campaign, and specifically the push for the Robin Hood tax, for some time now. They have some good online resources and an amusing video clip for the campaign.
Our very own Nick Kelly spoke about multinational companies and tax justice. The group was shocked to discover how little many corporate giants are contributing back in tax. Ideas were brainstormed on how to highlight awareness of this in young people. Mike Tana, our PSA President, also attended the meeting and gave out sage advice to the group on stepping up and the importance of young people being involved in unions.
It was a really inspiring and fun meeting that will have ongoing impact on affiliates with attendees enthusiastic to do more. A resolution on the development of regional awards for youth and their mentors, and a recommendation to support the Oceania PSI youth work plan were endorsed by the Oceania PSI committee.
While at the conference, Nick and Katie attended a Unions NSW meeting, at which they heard about a union intern program where university students could volunteer to help with organising and other union work during university holidays. Unions NSW had also run a number of union stalls during university orientation week to promote unionism and encourage working students to become active union members. Both of these projects had been reported as a success.
Overall the PSA affiliation to the PSI is important as it provides a link to other public service unions internationally. PSI is going through a number of challenges due to financial issues and global attacks on public services. PSA and PSAY can play a positive leadership role in helping PSI overcome these challenges and being a dynamic and active international union organisation for the 21st century.