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Young Cambodian workers move a step closer to leadership

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6 February, 2019On 30-31 January, 40 young trade unionists from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Cambodia attended leadership training in the capital, Phnom Penh. 

The young trade unionists from ten national affiliates held the training as a follow-up to the action plan adopted at the regional youth exchange in Malaysia in October 2018. The participants learned more about building youth committees, new organizing approaches, international labour standards related to young workers and sustainable youth structures at their workplaces. Fifty per cent of the participants were young women.

The participants discussed the situation of youth in Cambodia, in society and at the workplace. They identified fears which young workers have over failure to implement labour laws, fixed-term contracts, piece-work, forced overtime, discrimination against young workers and the lack of protection for pregnant workers.

The young unionists looked at the employment situation in Cambodia, learned about global youth participation in trade unions and international labour standards which protect young workers. They discussed using new organizing approaches effectively.

IndustriALL Southeast Asia office has a strategic plan to promote youth exchange in the region, with youth leaders sharing their experiences in other countries. SPN Indonesia member Novi Utami Adiningsih gave a presentation on youth organizing, and participants exchanged their understanding of organizing practices and fundamental rights like working hours, minimum wages and social rights.

The young trade unionists committed to building youth committees and identified action points promoting gender equality, keeping workplaces free from discrimination, mapping union structures, and building capacity for the youth in their unions. They also designed posters for their youth committees.

Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said:

“Trade unions need to represent different kinds of people: young workers, women, people who are often not heard. Trade unions are the only organizations fighting for workers’ rights in their workplaces, but sometimes they do not represent everybody. We need to change and be representative. Do not give up. Future trade unions will listen to what the new generation says and will be built by young workers.

“Leadership is not complicated. You need confidence as a leader to say ‘yes, I can’. When you say this, people will respect you. You need to be supported by people who trust you. We want to make connections between youth in IndustriALL. Sharing information and experiences will build the power of IndustriALL youth.”

Annie Adviento, IndustriALL Southeast Asia regional secretary gave a presentation on IndustriALL’s action plan for the youth and the region, emphasising the key strategic goals for youth and the upcoming Congress in 2020.

Eliminating sexual harassment at the workplace is a key goal, and participants were given a presentation about IndustriALL’s policies and asked anonymously if they had experienced sexual harassment. The participants discussed the country action plan, approved during the regional youth exchange in Malaysia, identified their trade union confederations’ youth committee activities for the new year and set a framework of priorities for the 2020 Congress.