Trade unions are IN – Get involved, engage, act

Sindikati Su In Kick Off Meeting 02

Development Center for Youth will be a part of another important European project, this time focusing on youth activism and participation through the prism of trade union acting. As a partner, we will support our long-lasting collaborator Trade Union of UPOZ from Skopje in their efforts to make young trade union activists more active and engaged, both in their trade unions and the society in general.

As an initial step, on February 10, with a press conference for journalists and holding of the kick-off meeting of the consortium, the Trade Union of UPOZ together with eight partners from the region and Europe-wide, began the implementation of the project co-financed by the European Union through the Erasmus + program and its action “European Youth Together”.

Main goal of the project, which is entitled “Trade Unions as a New Impetus for Youth Participation”, will be to strengthen the participation of young people in the trade Unions, primarily through education and training.

The emphasis placed on young people and their participation is not accidental.

The latest European statistics say that the average age of the members of the trade unions is from 45 to 50 years old, and the percentage of people who join the trade unions under the age of 25 has significantly decreased.

“There are many reasons for this situation, but the main factors for this are that young people do not recognize trade unions as organizations of interest, nor as organizations that can offer them protection of their rights. Unions, on the other hand, even though they know that they need young people to survive, do not include young people to be part of the bodies of the unions, so young people are not involved at all in the decision-making process in the unions. This is exactly what we want to change” – said the President of the Union of UPOZ Trpe Deanoski.

In addition to this, Aleksandra Knežević, program director of Development Center for Youth emphasized another problem of relevance for youth. “Many of young people would even ask for slightly lower salaries, if they knew that they would feel safe and with the potential to advance in their working environment, without mobbing and with respect for their rights. It is a prerequisite for young people to stay and to demonstrate that our combat against brain drain is not just declarative and trade unions play an important role when we come to the position of youth on the labour market,” it was emphasized by this speaker during the press conference.

Since these problems are faced by a large part of the trade unions in Europe, this project led by the Trade union of UPOZ includes partner organizations from eight countries, namely: Development Center for Youth from Serbia, Trade Union Youth Plus from Slovenia; United Societies of Balkans from Greece, Hizmet-Ish Trade Union from Turkey, Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade from Serbia, Trade Union Center for Education and Training from Skopje, Trade Union of Administration and Justice of Montenegro and Trade Union of Administration of Republika Srpska.

At the beginning, it was mentioned that first a comprehensive research would be carried out to target young people from 5 countries in order to find out what were the reasons for the inactivity and non-participation of young people in trade unions. After the results of the research, a curriculum and a Trade Union Academy will be prepared, through which future young trade union leaders will be empowered, among other things – to transfer the acquired knowledge in their own countries.

In the further course of the project, through a study visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia, young trade unionists will have the opportunity to get to know the work of the Trade Union Youth Plus, as a positive example of youth trade unionism, thus they will learn even more how young people can get involved in the work of the trade unions.

Result of the research and the curriculum will be presented to relevant structures in Brussels emphasizing the importance of the trade unions and their youth sections, and especially underlining the need for recognition of the training and education of this group of youth.

Finally, the entire concept will be presented at the large final conference in Skopje, to which a large number of European trade union representatives and representatives of the European Union and other relevant actors will be invited.

During the entire duration of the project, a comprehensive campaign with the title TRADE UNIONS ARE IN – GET INVOLVED, ENGAGE, ACT, will be carried out through social networks, and will be dedicated to young people to get to know the advantages of membership in unions.