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Young leaders call for inclusive unions

10 October, 2023As part of the Building Inclusive Unions project supported by Swedish affiliate, Union to Union, IndustriALL organised workshops for young unionists in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While young leaders from Sri Lanka discussed Just Transition and role of trade unions. Discussions in Pakistan focused on gender-based violence and harassment.

The workshop with Sri Lankan affiliates was held in Colombo on 17 and 18 September. Over 20 young leaders participated and aimed to provide an in-depth understanding on the role of trade unions and collective bargaining agreements, and Just Transition.

Young participants shared the perils of ongoing economic crisis in the country which has led to job loss. They emphasised the need for organising vigorously under the current circumstances, for which participation of young unionists is much needed. Young leaders mapped out the future action which includes reviewing union structures from the perspective of inclusivity and coordination with the union leadership to strengthen trade union networks. 
Dilakson Suresh, a young leader from IndustriALL’s affiliate Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), says:

“It’s essential that young workers understand the role of trade unions and for that we all need to actively engage in the union work and build trust among young workers. We will strive to not only increase the union strength but also ensure that union structures are inclusive.”

Sarah Flores, IndustriALL’s youth officer, who was present at the Sri Lankan youth workshop, emphasized:

“IndustriALL is committed to supporting its affiliates in advancing representation of young unionists, including women and LGBTQI+ members, within trade union structures and developing organising tools to recruit more young members in unions.”

 In Pakistan, the national youth workshop took place in Multan on 30 September and 1 October. Around 20 young unionists, including women, participated in the meeting.
The focus of the Pakistan youth workshop was on gender based violence and harassment (GBVH) which has been identified as the priority area by young leaders in South Asia. 

Young participants shared that women workers often face various forms of discrimination and harassment within their workplaces disproportionately, while social security benefits, such as maternity benefits, are not adequately provided to women workers. 

Young leaders discussed various strategies that could be used to mitigate the risks associated with GBVH, one of which is the ratification of ILO C190. 

Workshop participants have committed to map the industries and unions where women workers are employed and holding discussions on the GBVH toolkit with their union members.

Tooba Hanif, a young woman leader from IndustriALL’s affiliate, Pakistan Textile, Garments and Leather Workers Federation (PTGLWF), says:

“We will strive to achieve gender just and inclusive structures with our union spaces. We need to develop a comprehensive union policy focused on engaging more young members in the union work such as advocating for freedom of association.”