7th PERC Youth Conference

The 7th PERC Youth Conference took place on 06-07th of October in Istanbul. During two days the delegates from different parts of Europe debated challenges of the working youth in the changing world of work and developed guidelines priorities of work for the 2023-2024.

Conference was welcomed by leaders of local Trade Union Confederations. They greeted participants of the conference in Turkey, referred to current labour issues and trends in Turkish labour market and expressed their commitment and support to youth in Trade Union movement. Conference was attended by over 40 participants and experts from ETUC, FES, European Training foundation, Lifelong learning platform, Global Organising Academy.

The main topic of discussion of the conference was digitalization which is changing the world of work and affects young workers the most, and, inter alia, has been bringing new challenges of informality and bogus-self-employment for young people entering the labour market. Even before the COVID crisis, young workers had very slim chances of getting a “stable” employment for years, with levels of youth unemployment and underemployment much higher than for other age groups. With the spread of the new precariousness of the digital era, many young people face little or no choice but to start in (and to be trapped into) platform work.

Conventional union strategies fall short of handling such situations. At the same time, the digital era also creates opportunities for new means of organising workers. There are cases of young workers self-organising within platform operators in big cities of Europe. These examples need to be explored and taken on board in trade union youth organising and empowerment work.

Ignacio Doreste, Senior Advisor of ETUC presented ETUC position and work done it terms of EU Directive on platform work and where the current situation is. Dr. Inga Sabanova Policy Officer, FES Competence center “Future of Work” presented outcomes of FES Research Project on Online Platforms and Platform Work. FES „Future of Work“ initiated a research project Mapping Platform Economy of which one report is available here. The aim was to capture the existing platform economy landscape, e g employment status of platform workers, information on platform companies, collective agreements and legal cases across EU countries.

Ummuhan Bardak, Senior Human Capital Development Expert - Skills Demand Analysis, European Training Foundation presented the work of Foundation and work they do. Presentation focused on global drivers of change and global trends on future work and jobs, global labour trends in EU Neighbourhood and how to manage transition towards the future Vice-President of Lifelong Learning Platform, Arja Krauchenberg presented lifelong learning as the primary guiding principle for policies related to education and training and presented requests that working youth can have - more emphasis on the acquisition of basic skills and neutralizing digital space and commercialization of education. We should promote Individual Learning Accounts as individual learning entitlements, foster flexible learning pathways and promote the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

After two sessions of presentations by experts participants of the conferenses break into groups and had a discussion „ If digitalisation is our business, so what do we want?“. Young people want clear legislation of digital work including structure, working hours, vacations and breaks. As unions we need to have clear picture what is happening on national levels and have a space or some type of digital platform for sharing good and bad practices and to collaborate more. We need to work not only on existing issues but also to identify what new technologies exists and what jobs are/will be disappearing. How we will deal with new jobs – we need new support groups for young people facing difficulties and more trainings provided by employer.

Second day started with session on Organising and with support of Director of Global Organising Academy Karene Walton participants dicussed issues related to digital organising, how to prepare digital organising plan, how is it different fron „traditional“ organising and what are the qualities of good organiser.

Delegates reviewed proposal by 6th YC to update Terms of Reference and agreed to accept those clauses, that have full consensus and create Working group to prepare further revision of Terms of Reference until next conference. Conference agreed with consensus to change a number of VPs from 3 to 2, to guarantee clearer outcomes of bureau decisions and to create Youth network to assist work of new YC. Conference decided to conduct elections based on updated version of Terms of Reference.
The 7th PERC Youth Committee were elected at the conference in accordance with the changed Terms of Reference, and the voting resulted in the following composition:

Mr Yury Varlamov, KTR, Russia
Vice Presidents:
Ms Emilija Zdravkovska, UNASM, North Macedonia
Ms Zeynep Kandaz, DISK, Turkey
Ms Nargiz Mamedova, AHIK, Azerbaijan
Mr Vedran Jurišić, KSBiH Bosnia-Hercegovina
Ms Zornitsa Petrova, CITUB, Bulgaria
Ms Tamar Surmava, GTUC, Georgia
Mr Philipp Siewert, DGB, Germany
Mr Nikola Bobic, CATUS, Serbia

After the elections participants of the conference discussed and suggested work guidelines for 7th Youth Committee. The preliminary list includes: Just Transition, organising, support to work of national youth structures or help to set up them where they do not exist, creating institute international solidarity to assist activists in dangerous situations, support for different agreements of assistance in migration etc, eradication of dangerous and hazardous jobs, boost visibility of PERC youth, equality – gender, race, cultural, informal economy and youth representation in decision making bodies.