Young union voices

The PSA Youth network recently put together a 2-day programme of activities to engage young PSA members from around the country and help create young union leaders.

youth membersby Matthew O’Driscoll


It was also a chance for the PSA to re-familiarise with the issues facing young members, such as: job progression and opportunities, pay and financial worries, bullying and lack of respect, and PSA communication to younger members.

In both Auckland and Wellington sessions, members went through a range of exercises to identify the images, words and feelings they associated with the PSA Youth network.  What follows is a narrative of that process.


Who are we?

As PSA Youth members we want to distinguish ourselves from the rest.

We are tired of being marginalised at work, of being bullied, and of being labeled as ‘generation me’.

Outside of the PSA, we belong to social, political, church and community groups – so we can quite easily demonstrate that we do care about others but if you are asking us to care about something new, then it needs to be explained as an impact on us or the people we know.

We are moved by peer association rather than the traditional sense of peer pressure.  We want to join your club as long as we know who’s in it and what’s in it (for us).

We haven’t got time for intangible concepts and if your idea takes a whole bunch of writing to explain then it’s not a very well thought-out idea.  Keep it simple, keep it smart looking.

We think that’s fair. We have a greater understanding of what’s fair because we are often on the wrong side of that term, whether that be ageism, sexism or racism.


We want to be heard

When we speak we would like to be listened to. You expect our respect and it will be given, but only by equal measure in return.

We want to step up, stand up, shout out, speak up and give helping hands to those that need them.  We will do this because we hope that others will do the same for us.

We have real concerns over better work, better life, better pay, succeeding and overcoming challenges.

We know when people aren’t genuine, when we’re being given lip-service, or when you try to fake it.  Keep it real with us and there won’t be a problem; try to pull the wool over our eyes and we’ll think you are a Chesdale cheddar slice.


We are unique

We are young, happy and healthy, we are at the start of our careers, we’ve got fresh eyes and we know how to talk today’s language with today’s tools and we’re ready for the future.

We are good at what we do and we want to be rewarded for it.

We can be the next big thing and we will see things through to the end.

But we know when to call it quits, we know when to let a grudge go, we know when something isn’t working and aren’t afraid to let it go because we know when it’s over between us.


This article is from the June 2011 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.