This year, the day is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The current generation of youth is the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.
As the United Nations reminds us: “The 2030 Agenda affirms that “sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security”. The process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, health care and basic services, promotes their role as active contributors to society and provides young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals. When youth are excluded from political, economic and social spheres and processes, it can be a risk factor for violence and violent forms of conflict. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a precondition for sustaining peace.”[i]
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary, says: “Decent jobs for young people, access to free quality public education, healthcare and inclusive policies are the key to building and sustaining peace. Ensuring young workers can organise in a union, mobilise for their rights, bargain collectively and have the right to strike is essential for them to defend their rights and their future, and reduce the potential of violence that is often a reaction to the denial of these fundamental rights to address growing inequality and restore social justice.”
Since the 1980s, the world has experienced an era of jobless growth, to the enormous detriment of young workers. Finding a job with security and decent wages is difficult all over the world, and for many young workers the prospect of rising living standards is limited. Global economic growth in the last two decades has yielded benefits that are grossly unevenly shared through an unprecedented widening of income inequality. Most jobs created in the last two to three decades are short-term, part-time, temporary, casual or informal, and largely precarious. For young workers, these low-protected, low-paid jobs are often the only option leading to job insecurity, life uncertainty and a future of poor pensions insufficient to ensure dignity and autonomy in old age.
In addition, the increasing privatisation of the education system, particularly in the global south, restricts access to education and skills formation that lead to decent work, with young women workers disproportionately affected. But education is not just about skills formation, above all it is about preparing future generations of citizens and providing the civil values and principles for coexistence in our communities to ensure socially stable democratic societies, devoted to peaceful and sustainable development. This is a responsibility of governments that cannot be delegated to private providers.
Pavanelli continues: “Humanity is facing different kinds of crises – natural and man-made disasters. What is required is a redefinition of the predominant model of production and consumption. We must give back to the state and public services their role in supporting our communities, and ensure that young workers and
trade unions can participate fully in all steps of this process. Young workers are the drivers of this much-needed change.”
In terms of the Transition from War to Peace and ensuring Employment and Decent Work for peace and resilience, PSI also calls for the necessary tools and training for emergency workers so that they may better perform their prevention, rescue and rebuilding functions, without unnecessary risks to their own health and safety. Young people cannot prevent conflicts alone; without strong and democratic institutions to defend peace and social justice, the law of the strongest will always prevail.
PSI calls on all its affiliates to stand up for the rights of young workers! We cannot accept a future with worsening working and living conditions. We want inclusive and equitable societies that offer opportunities for all! Sustainable peace means nothing without decent work, strong public services and social justice for workers!
As young workers, we often undergo heavy pressure due to the numerous threats that jeopardize our future. We all need to find ways to build our lives regardless of these uncertainties. PSI Young Workers have decided to celebrate International Youth Day by calling trade unions to denounce and tackle precarious work.
Join us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram and send a photo or a statement with the UN hashtag #Youthday or #youth2030 and call to end #precariouswork. Explain how job insecurity affected your life or the life of a close friend or family member. Denounce how it was an obstacle to the achievement of your goals and aspirations in life.
Organise an event or activity
One visible and interactive way to commemorate International Youth Day is by organising an event or activity in your workplace or community. Whether it’s five or 500 people, you can help celebrate the Day. Work with your union to brainstorm about the type of event you want: seminars, lectures, debates or round table discussions to promote intergenerational understanding and partnerships on the issue of how to tackle precarious work and advocate for a more stable, sustainable future for us.
Be an advocate
Another great way of commemorating International Youth Day and of helping bring about positive change is to be an advocate on the issue: speak out and take action to influence positive change. Some questions you could ask: How can we protect public sector workers from all forms of violence? Can we guarantee social justice without public services? How is this relevant to our community? What can we do to reduce harassment, discrimination and job insecurity at work?
Spread the word
Many people underestimate the real impact of social and economic violence on people in our societies. Events and campaigns can be great ways of increasing knowledge and awareness of the issue, but sometimes, just having a discussion or informal chat with your union members, friends, peers and family can be a simple yet powerful way to change their views and mobilise them on this issue.
PSI website: http://www.world-psi.org/en/issue/young-workers
Please email PSIWebUpdates@world-psi.org if your union is planning any special events to mark International Youth Day on 12 August this year, so we can promote your news and photos.