(6 December 2021) Last week, EPSU held two online, interactive workshops for the EPSU Youth Network and the Recruitment and Organising Network, on one of the most important topic for the future of our unions – organising young workers. The events were based on a report on organising young workers, commissioned by EPSU and written by researcher Nick Clark, which was published today.
COVID-19 has hit young people particularly hard. It has aggravated the challenges young workers and jobseekers face entering the labour market. Many young workers end up taking poor quality jobs – jobs with precarious contracts, jobs that don’t provide sick pay or social protection, some will take traineeships and internships, even if they are overqualified.
Trade unions have a big role to play in ensuring young workers are protected, helping them with the many challenges they face in finding quality employment, and strengthening the voice of young workers. But at the same time, fewer and fewer young people are joining trade unions.
That is why EPSU commissioned this report and organised these workshops. To consider and discuss different ways of increasing young workers’ membership of and participation in trade unions.
The first of the workshops focussed on how and where to approach young workers. After hearing a presentation from the researcher Nick Clark, the participants broke out into small groups and discussed questions such as how and where is it best to reach out to young workers, how can we build trust with young workers, and what is the best message to use to encourage young workers to join unions.
The second of the two workshops focussed more on campaigning on issues facing young workers and job seekers. First there was a presentation from Tea Jarc, President of Sindikat mladi plus, a Slovenian trade union specifically for students and young job seekers. We then broke out into smaller groups and came up with ideas for campaigns, discussing which issues to focus on, what kinds of activities to organise, and how then to build on the success of the campaigns.
The report, which looks at many of the issues discussed in the workshops, is now available. It includes innovative trade union initiatives for recruiting and organising young workers, to ensure that they have a strong voice both at work and in our union structures. These examples can serve as inspiration as we continue to build our unions and increase our strength for future generations of workers.