Education International
Education International

Young workers: Champions of Quality Public Services

published 13 October 2010 updated 13 October 2010

“There is no work-life harmony; there is only work-life integration – you have to live as you work.” This joke set the tone for the Young Workers’ Forum held on 11 October, leading into the Quality Public Services, Action Now! Conference.

The Forum provided a valuable space for young workers to discuss their input into the Quality Public Services Charter and Action Plan.

The participants from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Fiji, Georgia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Ukraine, broke into small workgroups and discussed at length the global economic crisis and its impact on their working environment, home lives and provision of public services in their respective countries.

The participants were encouraged to think about how different groups are affected, in particular whether young people are being affected differently than others. Identifying the negative impacts was relatively easy and it became clear that participants faced similar issues across the globe.

Participants then faced the more difficult challenge of identifying the positive impacts of the crisis as well as signs of hope and concrete actions which can be taken.

The need for integration of young worker structures and a stronger union presence in the workplace were identified as some of the key concerns that were given greater urgency in the crisis. Many good ideas and suggestions came out of these sessions, in particular, participants felt that global union cooperation and networking was essential.

The young workers’ outcomes and suggestions are reflected on a colourful wall display which all participants to the main conference were able to view.

EI Vice President, Haldis Holst, said: “It is crucial that the experience of young workers has such a prominent voice in the shared agenda for the Quality Public Services conference. Everyone, young and old, is adversely impacted by draconian measures being implemented by some governments, but in many cases, young workers are more exposed and vulnerable. We must listen, engage and respond to the needs of young workers and ensure so that everyone can access quality public services, and can work to provide these services with dignity and equality.”