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Strengthening young workers and women in Mexican unions

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7 November, 2014The fourth seminar of the IndustriALL LAC Regional Education and Strengthening of Trade Unions Project for Young Workers was held in Mexico City on 20 – 21 October 2014. Delegates discussed the violence suffered by young workers and the degree of state repression against all those who try to organise themselves to demand their rights.

The aim of the project, which is supported by IndustriALL, Finland’s trade unions, SASK and affiliated unions in Mexico,  is to increase the participation and organisational capacity of young trade unionists and improve and promote training at all levels of the trade union movement.

Delegates discussed the government’s attack on students from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa in the town of Iguala, Guerrero, last September when three students and two other people were shot by municipal police officers and 43 students were kidnapped and disappeared.

Young people are demanding that the Mexican government stop its repressive policies towards social movements and trade unions. They call on the government "to present the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa alive, explain what happened in Iguala and punish all those responsible for this barbaric act".

Delegates concluded that progress towards ending the lack of quality education and stopping state repression of the working class needs more young people and women to get involved in building stronger and more democratic trade unions.

Delegates also discussed how democratic trade unions polices could be improved to encourage participation of young workers and women and, through this, empower them while at the same time strengthening the unions and increasing the impact of union action.  They outlined a proposal for a new structure for youth which will be completed and presented to union executive committees in 2015. 

Delegates returned home with the commitment to draft action plans with their colleagues, take initiatives on trade union education, organisation and communication and develop local plans to promote greater participation by young workers and women in the unions.

The project, which will continue in 2015, has already made a lot of progress and had a significant impact in the unions that accepted this challenge. Next year, participating unions will begin to implement more effective and targeted policies and develop more detailed plans on the basis of the discussions held by these young workers and their proposals for changing trade union structures and culture.