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Workshop on Organizers Training Course for Youth

Organised by Union Network International (UNI-APRO)

September 23-27 2008, Kathmandu, Nepal


Introduction

The South Asian states and peoples are pulled into a globalized economic space in a chain of integrated technology, communication, production, trade, exchange and consumption. The region hosts 40 percent of the world's poor, majority of them are young. The daily per capita income of 437 million people is less than one dollar. Growing income and wealth disparity, joblessness, inequality in access to healthcare, sluggish economic growth, poverty, ecological destruction, climate change, food crisis, militancy and privatization of media and education have deprived majority of youth of South Asia from creative participation, critical learning about their conditions and adopt measures to mitigate them. Contradiction is deeply rooted in the international and national political system and, therefore, social movements of youth are trying to reform this system through democratization. Without changing the classical rules of the game of politics played on the multiple codes of unequal class, caste, region, religion, gender, etc rather than equal citizenship their future will be determined by their past. This means the regional societies will never be great unless every youth is set free to learn and learning provides them social mobility to escape from the pathos of poverty, joblessness, inequality, exclusion and conflict.

A society cannot grow when its product, young generation, do not have legitimate space to contribute to national progress. In no way a nation can leap into modern development when the bulk of youth that constitutes the dynamic sections of society are deprived of adequate role in their own political system. A deeper level of analysis is needed to understand the causes and consequence of job insecurity of youth caused by neo-liberal ideals of privatization, outsourcing, domestic work, contracting, part-time and even rights of owners to hiring and firing. Youths have to struggle to make social charter of the region and human rights conditions actionable and justiceable.

The South Asian economic dynamism has been possible because of the remittance the youth workers bring from across the global economic participation. By working together, regional workers have developed collective sentiment and collective identity. But, no one has scientifically calculated the social, economic, political and psychological cost of this benefit. These challenges require youths a coordinated response and renew their regional cooperation through multilateralism, on the need to rebuild support from international community by ensuring that attention is paid more to losers and create their stake in the system so that they can live together in harmony with equal opportunities. Equal opportunity is the cardinal principle of social, gender and inter-generational justice.

This is the reasons transformative leadership is the key concept of youths all over the world as popular civil society groups. Younger generation of leadership frankly communicates their goals and inspires their fellows to pursue the collective goods beneficial to all sides, helps the group to make decisions, maintains horizontal communication and resolves conflicts both personal and organizational. The power to shape modern civilization rests on youths' imagination and dream of transformation through public education, greater practical skills, higher wages and dignified life. But, there is a great gap between the rural and the urban youth generated by geography, society and access to modernity. This gap is a threat to social and system integration as the stake and accountability of diverse youths to the system are unequal. True solidarity means fighting for the weaker and marginalized members of society and discovering means to participate in the transformation of their unjust condition. The South Asian governments have endorsed the universal declaration of human rights including the rights of workers coded in ILO's core labor standards. But, the South Asian trade union landscape represents weak roaster of youth leaders in decision-making. It is also morally contaminated owing to the pathetic representation of women. If this trend continues in the future, trade union movement will be in a deep recession. In this context, institutionalization of rights of youth for social justice, dignity, identity and decent work is essential to overcome social alienation, emotional instability and de-politicization and surmount growing democratic deficits.

Objectives of the Course

This five-day course is designed to assist the union organizers, delegates and activists to:

  • Enable them to understand the functioning of global trade union movement and various elements of local and international system;
  • strengthen the union in workplace by being more opened, organized and motivated to recruit more members;
  • familiarize the changing role of unions,
  • develop skills, knowledge and confidence to solve their problems through collective bargaining and handling of minor grievances; and
  • Provide method for active learning, communication, skill enhancement and leadership development.

Participants and Resource Persons

There were altogether 25 participants including 8 women from South Asia-Nepali 14, India 6, Bangladesh 2, Pakistan 1 and Sri Lanka 2. The participants were below 38 years of age. There were five resource persons--Sri Lanka 1, India 2 and Nepal 2 to facilitate the training. One Pakistani and one India participant could not come due to personal problem. Participants represented several unions, such as medical and sales representatives, press, radio, television, postal union, telecom, banking and casino.

Content and Methodology

The content of training involved trade unionism and team building, campaign involving youth, organization building, youth employment, project presentation, effective communication, presentation skills, group exercises, motivation skills to recruit new members, organizing skills and reaching consensus, delegating responsibilities, role play, leadership development, interview techniques, presentation of proposals and action plans, evaluation, etc. The training methodology involved lecture presentation, group discussion, demonstration of leadership skill, role playing and interaction. Half-day field visit was organized at Namaste and Sell-Well Super Market to conduct interview of the employees working there on their working condition, salary structure, their interest and involvement in unions and their problems. After the interviews five groups represented presented their findings for group discussion. The UNI-APRO provided resource for reading and reflection.

Outcome

After the training a short evaluation was organized. All the 25 participants felt that they developed self-confidence in speaking and demonstrated commitment to motivate young women and men to join their respective unions. They will provide orientation program first and tell the new employees the cost and benefit of joining unions, explain about national labor laws, union structures, potential incentives and the nature of workers movement worldwide. Some of them even expressed assurance that they will immediately establish youth and women's committee in their respective unions. Many of them argued that there are neutral, disinterested and anti-union people. They will target the first two and only then the last category of employees. Each of the representatives presented his/her action plan for the short, medium and long-term as a follow-up of the program. The UNI-APRO representative stated that those who perform well will be invited in their regional follow-up program next year as an incentive. All of the participants have agreed to work collectively for the social protection and welfare of the workers and exchange information among various unions about their strategies to attract younger generation of workers.

 
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