Since 2008, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has been organising the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) on 7 October. This is a global day of action to remind governments across the globe that they must prioritise decent work to stimulate economic growth and build a new global economy that puts people first.
This year’s WDDW called for decent jobs for young people. Youth unemployment is currently as high as 60 per cent in some countries. Trade unions are warning that a whole generation of young people faces exclusion from the labour market, which is a social and economic time-bomb.
Jobless rate rising
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the jobless rate amongst 15-24-year-olds rose from 11.8 per cent to 12.7 per cent between 2008 and 2009. This reversed the pre-crisis trend of declining youth unemployment rates since 2002.
“The crisis and governments’ inability, or unwillingness, to restore jobs and growth, is having a particularly brutal impact on young people,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.“Official figures show that 75 million young people are without jobs across the world.”
Trade unions mobilising worldwide
Therefore, actions on this year’s WDDW focused on job creation for young people. Events took place worldwide:
- In Haiti, the unions came together in a historic event and occupied the streets for the first time in many years;
- In Burma, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, together with Maung Maung – a trade union leader who has just been allowed back into the country after many years of forced exile – hosted the very first WDDW event;
- In Indonesia, there was a national strike on Sunday, 7 October;
- In Bulgaria, 25 different events happened all over the country – from leafleting in the streets to sectorial meetings on youth employment;
- Trade unions in Senegal organised a conference on alternatives for youth employment.
The ITUC has launched a special campaign website on a weather forecast theme where young workers can find the outlook for their own country, and also take action by writing to their labour ministers.
Education is the key
EI has repeatedly highlighted the crucial role of education in boosting youth employment and shaping a post-crisis world that is economically, socially and environmentally fair and sustainable.
“It is highly difficult for young people to enter the labour market. We must demand that cuts in public spending do not touch education, otherwise we will create a ‘lost generation’ not adapted to market circumstances,” stated EI President Susan Hopgood.
“Teachers’ unions have a central role to play in pressing for a jobs-led growth strategy that recognises and addresses the real cause of youth unemployment.”