“Research shows that you don’t join a union by the time you’re 25, you’re much less likely to join one later in life,” UNISON national young members forum chair Kendal Bromley-Bewes told delegates at the union’s national delegate conference this morning.
She was introducing a motion on making 2019 the year of young workers, after the presentation of the young members’ organising award – renamed in honour of late president Eric Roberts – to the Cymru/Wales young members’ group.
This was in recognition of the Respect Your Youth campaign, highlighting the importance of young workers to Welsh employers.
Speaking in the debate on plans for 2019, John Murray of the North West ambulance branch, highlighted the importance of young workers when he said that without them, “organisations, this union, have problems. Young members are not just our future, they’re our present.”
And young workers need a union as much as UNISON needs young members.
As Kathleen Kennedy of Aberdeenshire (pictured) pointed out: “Disabled young people are twice as likely to be unemployed.”
Rosie McGregor, representing the union’s retired members’ organisation, offered a living example of inter-generational solidarity when she declared herself a young member for the three minutes of her speech.
“We need to be recruiting more young members now,” she said. “We need to reach out to the 14% of the workforce who are under 25.”
Ian Mooney of North Lancashire community and mental health branch entered the debate on his 27th birthday – the day he stopped being a young member, according to UNISON’s definition.
Looking ahead, he urged conference: “Let’s make 2019 the first year for young workers. Let educate, let’s agitate and let’s organise.”