NRMU maiden Zonal Youth Conference

January 25, 2016

The aim of the conference is to increase youth participation and organise and mobilise them to strengthen the union and the federation. The outcome is an opportunity for young leaders with union leaders’ support to take bold steps for young workers’ structures and engagement in the union.

Preeti Singh, ITF Asia Pacific Young Transport Workers’ Committee Representative and Youth Divisional Coordinator for Northern Railway Men’s Union (NRMU) affiliated to All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), reports on their maiden Zonal Youth Conference. The programme was organised by NRMU team Mr Manoj, Mr Vikas, Mrs Preeti along with the host MB division.

Indian railway is the world’s seventh largest commercial or utility employer with around 1.4 million employees. Railways is divided into 16 Zones (17 if Kolkata Metro zone included) which are further sub-divided into divisions. NRMU is the most northern and largest Zone, in terms of having 6807 kilometre route. (source wiki)

Youth conclave

NRMU’s maiden Zonal Youth Conference was held on 26 – 27 December 2015 at Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India. Haridwar is a small ancient and one of the holiest cities in India. It is 5-7 hours by train to the north of Delhi and has good rail links to all the major Indian cities, thus making it a good location for Northern Railway Zonal Youth Conference.

Day one; Speeches, Divisional Youth Reports and group discussions

Day one, strong speeches from leaders set the tone and challenges for the young workers to take up the mantle to strengthen their union. Shri SK Tyagi, President, NRMU gave a talk on globalisation and liberalisation; with a theme on how to strategically plan for the future challenges and organise, educate and mobilize young workers to bring strength to the union.

Shri S.G. Mishra, General Secretary, AIRF, challenged young workers organisers by asking, 1) What do the young workers want? 2) Why are young workers leaving unions? 3) What do the young workers think about union? The government is cutting down on labour rights and young workers’ cooperation in unions are necessity to strengthen unions and secure their future.

Shri Mukesh Mathur, General Secretary, NWREU, reminded young workers and unions members of the sacrifices of the railway martyrs and positive values and visions of the union.

All the divisions reported on their progress, young workers activities and formation of young workers committees at branches and divisional level. As well as challenges ahead to increase young workers participation at working committees and starting young workers committees at all branches.

The reports were followed by more talks on various issues and cases such as importance of network in organising young workers (M Shrivastav); how women railway workers’ wing are working with AIRF to benefit women workers (J Agarwal, convener AIRF women wing), how NWREU are strengthen by contribution of their young workers (V Mann, Assistant General Secretary, NWREU); how basic workers rights are threaten by government policies and need for young workers to organise and mobilise (M Parihar) and need for young workers and leadership to work together, need for structural and financial support for young workers work (P Singh).

These talks gave lots of foods for thought for the afternoon brainstorming and group discussion activities on organising and mobilising young workers. Working committees of young workers were formed to brainstorm and discuss ideas. They came up with ideas and visions for young workers participation at all levels of union activities, democratic elections for selection of committee members, gender equality, union educations and awareness building of workers and general public, etc.

Day two – Decision and outcomes of the conclave

First: Branch Secretaries will appoint Branch Convenors to coordinate young workers team until the formation of young workers body. Young workers coordinators appointed at this conference will supervise the participations in the upcoming events.

Second: Before 31 March, Each branch secretary should ensure elections of young workers committee members at each branch and division level. They should identify all young worker members below 35 years of age and keep record of those who are active. There should be at least 1 delegate in each branch for 25 members. This group should meet at least once a month. Committee will remain for 2 years strengthening solidarity

Third: 10% of the union membership is to be allocated for young workers activities. Members of the young workers will strictly follow the ethical rules of the members and strive to serve the people. Organising committee organise the next Zonal conference will plan activities on campaigning, skills training and increase membership and report accordingly. Educational committee should organise the educational programme for youth wing in the intervals of 2 months at least which will produce trainers in each branch.


Related Blog post:

Asia Pacific Young Transport Workers Network (AP YTWN)

Saving India’s railways


Call to all members of the ITF youth network: please encourage other young workers to send us their stories, share their campaigns and tell us about their activism.

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