The Young Workers Committee of CSA/TUCA: Debate on trade union self-reform and decent work

The Young Workers Committee of the Americas, with the support from the Solidarity Center, AFL-CIO, met at the TUCA Office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a summit on "Youth and Trade Union Self-Reform: Strengthening the Union Movement of the Americas", as part of the VII Annual meeting of the Committee

Source: CSA/TUCA

by CSA-TUCA & Cesar Moreno-Perez, President of the Young Worker Committee of TUCA

Twenty young union leaders from nine countries (Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, United States of America, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela) participated in the meeting as well as representatives from the Youth Committees of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Public Services International (PSI). The goal of both meetings was to discuss the intersections between young workers and the trade union movement, as key factors to find solutions to the serious problems that affect the working youth of the Americas and strengthen the labor movement as a whole.

The CSA/TUCA Secretary General, Victor Baez, explained during his opening remarks that the objective of trade union self-reform is to expand and increase the organizational capacity of unions and federations to involve and engage more young workers through union representation, operational and structural changes. He also said that these changes are key for including informal workers and those in precarious work situations, particularly youth and migrant workers.

He pointed out that the World Day for Decent Work 2013 Campaign, which will be held on October 7 has as theme “Organize, organize and organize” and that informal workers and those in precarious situations have been the focus of CSA/TUCA this year.

More education and decent jobs

The young trade union leaders from across the region highlighted the need to fight for public policies that would expand access to formal education, trainings and professional development for young workers, with equal opportunities for men and women regardless of their sexual orientation, that would pave the way to decent jobs that would inevitably contribute to a strengthening of their involvement in the union movement.

“It is urgent to fulfill the needs related to education, professional development and trainings for young workers in the Americas in order to help young workers obtain decent work, dignity and respect on the job which is hindered by the lack of new opportunities and jobs", said César Moreno-Perez from AFL-CIO, president of the Young Workers Committee of the Americas.

Continental Campaign

The CSA/TUCA Secretary of Economic Policies and Sustainable Development, Rafael Freire, presented at the summit addressing the Continental Campaign for Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and Union Self-Reform, launched in August in San Jose, Costa Rica.

He discussed the campaign strategy and tools which include: Education, Communication and Political Incidence. Freire pointed out that professional development and trainings are fundamental for having youth participate in trade unions, and that communication — that which articulates the movement and contributes to alternative networks — faces the challenges of incorporating new social media outlets. According to Freire, political incidence refers to different opportunities for political representation at the national, regional and international level.

Freire also highlighted the need for renewing trade unions with the participation of new generations, which requires giving opportunities and creating spaces for new leaders, young women and men to participate in trainings and providing them with opportunities to share and contribute to the work and growth of the union movement.

Experiences related to Self-Reform

The participants of the summit also discussed initiatives and shared best practices from their own organizations in relation to youth and trade union self-reform, in order to develop a series of actions which were included in the Young Workers of the Americas Work Plan for 2013-2014.

Discussions also revolved around the following topics: encounters between unionized youth and other social movements to create more channels for dialogue; internal proposals for establishing quotas for youth representation in leadership positions and youth participation in conventions; trainings / on trade union self-reform to inform young workers on the topic; designing campaigns for better pay for young workers, and having the union approach youth workers in outsourced jobs; as well as other matters.

In general, the Young Workers Committee of the Americas recognized the progress achieved in Brazil, Argentina and the United States of America, as well as in other parts of the region, in developing education and public policies that foster involvement of young workers in the trade union movement, but they also recognized that there is still a lot to do. “It is necessary to implement actions in the process for trade union self-reform that transforms union structures and expands union activity so that they become even more representative of the needs of young workers, ” said Cesar Moreno-Perez.

The participants agreed that more trainings are necessary to inform young workers about the importance of trade union self-reform —weather in person or on line — and that specific guidelines from CSA/TUCA are needed to inform and guide unions and federations in the Americas about the urgency and need of inclusion of young workers in leadership positions and representation.

Comments were also made about the importance of creating a data base of best practices to help organize and engage young workers throughout the region. The data base would also serve as an opportunity to share tactics and strategies about trade union self-reform. Committee members also expressed a need to create an exchange program among unions (of one or two weeks) for the young trade union leaders to share and learn from the experiences of different unions and federations..

Youth Mobilization for Decent Work

At the VII Annual meeting of the Young Worker Committee of TUCA, the youth committee presented to the General Secretary of CSA/TUCA, Victor Baez, a summary of the recommendations and an action plan from the Regional summit on Youth and Self-Reform. The Young Worker Committee requested support for trainings, professional development and more representation in the union movement of the Americas.

The meeting had several presentations, such as the "New Mobilization of the Youth and their Impact on Trade Union Movement", presented by the sociologist Anderson Campos, a presentation from the President of the ITUC Youth Committee, Pierre Ledecq, on the World Day for Decent work and highlighted several campaigns and best practices underway in the region including one from PSI.

The participants analyzed the Work Plan of the previous year and defined an Action Plan for 2013-2014, which will be published soon. One of the actions will be the participation of the CSA/TUCA Youth in the World Day for Decent Work 2013, on October 7. The committee voted overwhelmingly to use facebook and twitter to spread the word about the national day of action, the committee will be doing a “Twitt-On” day of action using hashtags #jmtd2013 and #juventudconderechos, throughout the region on October 7.

Several other activities related to dignity and respect for young workers’ rights will be organized throughout the region, including those calling for decent work. The committee plans to use the new social media tools as a way to communicate throughout the region and engage youth on the important issues of workers’ rights and trade union self-reform.

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