PERC Youth Committee meeting

The first meeting of the second PERC Youth Committee took place in Brussels on 14 February. The meeting of the Committee was chaired by its President, Tugba Balci.

Philippe Gousenbourger, ITUC Youth coordinator, informed the Committee about ITUC youth agenda, including prioritizing of the youth employment issues by the ITUC and by the ILO. The ITUC is going to organize its Youth Committee meeting on the occasion of the G20 meeting in Mexico, which will concentrate on youth employment issues. The ILO will be organizing high level meeting on youth employment prior to the International Labour Conference and the ITUC seeks to ensure solid participation of young trade unionists in it. He also invited the PERC youth to apply for small funding for youth organizing projects that is available at the ITUC.

Grigor Gradev, PERC Executive Secretary, presented the policy platform of the PERC as it has been approved by the PERC General Assembly and informed about the challenges European trade union movement is facing with. The austerity measures pushed by the governments include violation of international labour standards, however, the protests organised by union in the countries concerned are not heard or taken into account by the officials and the parliaments. At the same time, spontaneous public actions most often spearheaded by young people can topple the government, radical extremist forces are using union organised protests to bring chaos and violence to the streets, and in some cases populist governments enjoy impressive support of population, even when their actions violate the EU principles. And governments, of the countries that are not experiencing debt crisis, even outside EU, are often using crisis as a pretext to liberalise labour markets and to undermine workers rights and workers organisations.

Present youth in Europe is facing a rising dander of being “a lost generation”, their chances for decent employment are shrinking as the labour market in result of austerity measures and economic hardships. New movements are born by these “lost youngsters”, the movements that does not trust or think to associate with unions, which are considered as a part of institutional order they have no place in. They are built on horizontal democracy principle in opposition to vertical democracy – unions and political society is built upon. Unions need to search for ways to communicate with these movements, and unions can not just witness the new trends. This will be an issue for PERC Youth Committee and for PERC as such.

Five PERC priority areas are: getting out of crisis, trade union rights, fighting inequlities, democracy and social dialog and development of unions and its membership base.

The Committee set up four priority areas for its work and installed the respective “facilitators’ groups”:

a) Quality jobs for young workers (Tugba Balci, Daniela Aleksieva, Lasha Bliadze)

b) Intergenerational solidarity (to be further explored)

c) Renewal and relations with new movements (Oksana Abboud, Pierre Ledecq, Michael Wagner).

d) Communication and visibility of PERC youth work (Lasa Bliadze, Malin Norberg, Goda Nevereskayte, Tugba Balci and Michael Wagner).

The committee introduced several proposals to the PERC working plan: activities on youth employment in Sophia, Istanbul (tbc.), and Kiev, symbolic actions in support of the ETUC protest manifestation of 29 February that could be done together with association of pensioners or elderly people and on the occasion of the ILO Youth Employment conference / G20 meeting (if appropriate), substantiated expert research on representation of young workers interests in collective bargaining processes, traditional Palanga summer school.

The Committee also decided that each PERC youth activity must be accompanied with some creative symbolic action to boost interests towards trade union youth.