Young people shaping the union movement

Union believed that young workers are very important for the organisation movement in the future. Trade unions are powerful organizations and have a key role to play in shaping the present and future of the global economy. However, the traditional role of trade unions to promote unionism and encouraging young people to join the union often limit to reach them. Age gap to taking up the issues and negative perceptions of trade unions also factor that contributes to the young workers not to joining the trade union. Meanwhile the challenge globalisation and neo liberal ideology launched the corporation’s anti-union campaign also leaving the unions weaker and threatening workers afraid to join the union. Therefore, it’s impact to the political influence and changing structure of public sector unions, declining membership and weakening bargaining power

How can unions regain their former strength and increase it? Union membership in public sector fallen for last two decades, liberalisation and privatisation are threatening its existence. In some respects to this conditions, there has been eveywhere declining public sector works and a growth in private services. The workplace being shaped by the capitalist division of labour that cost of contracting out and ousourcing of jobs. No doubts that effecting the workplace to losses of benefits for decent working standards, and oh course young workers in facts are in most favourable affecting of this conditions. In Asia Pacific region, many young people are part of the well-educated person but most of them work as part-time or contract workers with less social security, low wages and vulnerable employment contracts and occupational hazards. For new labour market entrance, young workers face a mismatch between the supply of skills they are able to offer and demand for skills and expertise required by the employers. Unemployment in the region is also another challenge that forcing young people to migrate in search of just only for precarious jobs where workers have no rights. Creating employment for young people has become one of the major challenges for unions. So that why, there is a need for unions to be seen as supporters of young people’s issues and training them to be great leaders. But we also realized yet many of young workers less knowledge of their rights and ability to defend themselves. They also hardly know about union when they enter the labour market.

Despite, young workers still believe in union as agent for change: to improve the quality of their work life. But need to propose that union must change the way they manage and organise themselves in the current situation and future development. To better defend the interests of young workers, unions must first convince them to join the trade union ranks.Therefore, organising young workers in the union movement not just merely giving them activities but giving strategic position (institutionalized) under the trade union structure. This gives them channels to address and voice their issues and interests.

(1) Organising, organising, organising are keys role of union activities. Union must find the way to attract more young worker joining the trade union;

(2) Youth mainstreaming: union committed to engage young workers in all aspect of union policy and its work. Giving youth more power on organising youth to youth strategic campaign;

(3) Quota system as affirmative action in order to give more participation of the young workers in the trade union activities and provide youth budget;

(4) more power for youth committee and integrated structure in all union level

If more young workers join trade unions, we can work effectively towards the most effective solution to strengthen the voice of young people at the workplace and in the union. The youth must increase their voice within their unions and make their issues the union’s top priority. Giving a voice for young people is a priority work of Public Services International (PSI), in order to strengthen the membership base affiliates; we committed to engage young workers in all aspect of PSI’s work. Following up of the PSI policy toward young people, Asia Pacific has always been in the forefront in providing space and opportunity for young people and will continue to do so. The main point on the agenda for this year is strengthening young workers’ voices and how the existing youth network can actively participate and move forward shaping the union movement in this region. It is now time for us to speak up, stop asking and start demanding!

This above article has been published at ITUC but this is revised version.

Check here for her article on Working together: young people and unions at PSI Focus, page 16


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