Congress pre-meeting: The world’s youth demand decent work

In the lead up to the ITUC Congress that takes place this coming week in Vancouver, Canada, young trade unionists from all over the world got together and discussed the situation of young people at the workplace. The ITUC Youth Committee is a body set up by the ITUC General Council and is very proud to be completely equal in its composition, with two men and two women under 35 years old from each region: Asia-Pacific, Africa, Americas and Europe.

“Young people have the same needs as older people, they also need a decent job in order to live a decent life” said Jefferson Coriteac, President of the Youth Committee (Força Sindical, Brazil). “Young people also need to eat, pay their rent, support their family. Yet they are among the first to be hit in times of crisis, and to have the most precarious working conditions.”

A range of issues were discussed in the youth committee over the week-end: the future challenges for young people; how to increase the representation of young people in trade union organisations; the minimum age campaign in Canada and of course the Committee’s own campaign on organising young people. A very lively debate also took place on social networks and new means of communication such as mobile phone applications, Web 2.0, Facebook and other communication tools – used first and foremost by young people.

“Youth unemployment figures around the globe are massive and frightening”, said Sharan Burrow, the President of the ITUC when she spoke to the Youth Committee. “And it’s a global problem that we need to address. You can have up to 80 % youth unemployment in some communities.”

“We are very happy in the Canadian Labour Congress, CLC, not only to be able to host the ITUC Congress but also the ITUC Youth Committee”, said Erin Harrison-Taylor, the CLC’s youth officer. “To have this meeting in connection with the Congress clearly shows that we take young people and their situation seriously”, she added.