COSATU commemorates Youth Day

June 18, 2010

As its contribution to the Youth Month commemoration activities, COSATU hosted a Young Workers Seminar on 9 June in Johannesburg.

The Seminar, which drew scores of young workers, including shop stewards from COSATU affiliated unions, focused on among other things, youth unemployment, strategies for organising young workers, and initiatives that trade unions have embarked upon to organise young workers.

The delegates at the seminar were unanimous in raising the importance of creating young workers’ structures within the unions to ensure that when young people take membership of a union their voices will be heard.

According to a study conducted by the National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI), younger workers are less likely to be hostile to unions even though they are also less likely to be members.  NALEDI’s survey also indicated that 40% of younger workers say they don’t belong to a union because there is no union in their work place. 

During the discussions there was a general consensus among the young workers that youth groups or structures within the unions must be established to raise the voice of young workers and to build networks of young activists.

The seminar also deliberated on exploring alternative ways of communicating, networking and raising awareness, using web-based and electronic communication.  Other forms of organising that were explored include using popular culture, art, poetry, film music and sport activities.  By so doing, the young workers will be communicating in the language that they understand.

The seminar also noted that there was a strong need to build links with students, through the student movement and educational institutions with a view to introducing students to trade unions. 

In a bid to ensure that young workers’ voices are heard, COSATU affiliated unions have embarked on various initiatives including establishing youth desks, youth networks, student unions and targeted recruitment campaigns.

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