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31 October, 201832 young unionists from South East Asia held their first regional youth exchange forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 22 – 23 October.
Participants from Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia learned about IndustriALL’s youth empowerment action plan, its commitment and strategic goals, campaigns and young workers’ participation in unions, on a regional as well as on a global scale.
Discussions during the two days included women and youth structures in their unions, working conditions, health and safety, maternity leave in the region, all relevant for building youth action plans.
Annie Adviento, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary, said:
Increasing youth participation, ensuring their concerns, issues and working conditions are addressed by the unions, is one of IndustriALL’s priorities. We want to make sure that our young unionists have a voice at Congress in 2020.
Together, participants identified responses against challenges like threats by employers, lack of knowledge unions’ roles, precarious work and gender imbalance.
Organizing in the era of digitalization provides challenges, but also opportunities. Examples were shared on internet-based trainings, creating education modules and making them more useful for youth, and using social media to stay in touch. A Facebook page was created, to be used as a platform for awareness raising, information sharing on youth policies and activities, and to connect with other youth in IndustriALL.
Sarah Flores, IndustriALL project and youth officer said:
Young workers face huge challenges with the increase of non-standard forms of employment and transformation of jobs. Unions and young workers are under attack, but we can fight this if we organize together.
Youth is the actor of change. It is time they are given the space, and also occupy the space. We have a strong mandate to support, promote and empower young workers.
In their action plan towards Congress in 2020, youth in South East Asia committed to:
- follow up with increased youth representation at IndustriALL Congress
- campaign against the discrimination of young workers
- actively join ongoing campaigns
- work in a strategic way to get information from the region
- protect and improve young workers’ rights at workplaces