Guest Article for Stage, Screen and Radio Journal
Liz was asked to write this article for Stage, Screen and Radio journal August/September 2014 edition, covering the national and international work she's been doing representing union members globally.
SSR is a professional journal printed and online (subscription) for media professionals working in the Broadcasting, Entertainment and Media sectors.
Becoming active in BECTU and beyond...
So you joined your union because you wanted support in the workplace, because your colleagues convinced you it was a good idea, or simply for the cheap Public Liability Insurance for freelancers right?
Well, now is the time to think where else could the union path lead you, what projects or campaigns you could support and the array of opportunities you could have at your fingertips.
BECTU is a member-focused organisation and I've found the events and support are only limited by your involvement. Do you know what, it can actually be a lot of fun too!
My journey becoming an active union member started back in May 2012 at the BECTU conference in Manchester, where I attended as a local observer. There I was supported by my lovely National Official, Jo Livesey and was welcomed warmly by the young members from London. I was inspired by how many of the delegates had similar opinions and ethos to me around workers rights, and it was suggested I attend branch meetings to find out more.
The NWFI branch were engaging and it was great to learn more about what goes on in a union, but I couldn't help notice I was the youngest by far in the room. So, when I got asked to join the BECTU team on the trade stand at BVE North a few months later, my focus was to enlist some new members to join in too. I'm very happy and proud to say that almost all young members I've signed up, are now active in their branches and the Young Members Forum. But what's missing now, is getting to you, those existing members, who want to get more involved but don't quite know where to start.
In 2013 I became Vice-Chair of the Young Members Forum and since then I've tried to say yes to every opportunity to promote unions, schedule permitting (afterall I do run my own business and have to work at some point too). I feel it's also improved my contacts, confidence and profile, so not only great for the union and members, but personally too!
I felt so honoured to represent BECTU at IATSE's first Young Worker's conference in 2012 in Philadelphia; and this year joined union reps from across Europe for Uni Europa Youth's winter school and seminars in Brussels and Athens, learning how the EU if effecting young workers lives.
So I'm proof that if you get stuck in, you can do some amazing things within the union. We've linked up with other unions and the TUC, talked to hundreds of people on trade stands, run several campaigns and networking events, and even started up our own micro get-togethers in the North West.
I feel like we're building not only a network of colleagues and friends, but a collective of people who believe in fighting for a brighter future for all.
Surely you want to be in on that? Then take that first step, contact BECTU today!
The page can be found online at https://www.bectu.org.uk/advice-resources/library/1633