The only way to take back our future is together!

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It’s not right that young workers in Europe today are paying for the Euro crisis. A crisis that we did not cause!

Young workers, especially young women and migrants, have been caught in a trap of precarious employment, low paid jobs and unpaid internships. The austerity measures which have been the EU’s response to get out of the crisis has back fired when necessary public investment has been stopped and our welfare systems been cut. This has deepened the crisis and led to the loss of more than 100 000 jobs.

Many young people are desperately searching for a job. Every fifth young person in the EU is unemployed and in the countries hit hardest by the crisis as many as half of the young people stand without a job. Fighting the youth unemployment has to be a number one priority for all decision makers and trade unions. Therefore we demand a better and stronger youth guarantee and that unemployment is fought with the creation of quality jobs, not by more precariousness and the idea of lower wages for young workers. If the EU can invest more than 160 billion to save the banks and the failing financial institutions that caused the crisis, they should be able to invest more than a few billion on the future workforce of Europe!

Stop the (w)age discrimination

Young workers deserve decent work. Decent work means having a job that provides you with a living wage, instead of an unpaid internship after graduating or working for subsidised social assistance. Decent work comes with good working conditions, employee benefits and job security.

In some countries where minimum wage is set in the law, there is a lower legal minimum wage for young workers. For example, an 18 year old in the Netherlands receives less than half of the minimum salary of a 23 year old. This is age discrimination because they’re doing exactly the same work! This discrimination of young workers has to end! We must ensure that the principle of “same job – same pay” is applied.

Time to organise for quality jobs

All the improvements for workers have been won by united workers, because you are always stronger together. Only when you join forces with your workmates you can achieve better working conditions and higher salaries. Therefore we need to work hard to organise, organise, organise and show young people that the unions are the tool to create a better future for all workers and to fight the growing precariousness.

Youth is not just the future – we’re here now

Half of the world’s population is under 25 years old which makes young people a growing share of the global workforce. If we want to attract young people to join the unions we have to acknowledge that young workers are not just the future of the trade unions, they’re here now, and they are experts on the situation and conditions on the labor market of today! Young workers have to been included in the decision making bodies on all levels of the unions. That way they can be part of the work to create better union strategies to link up with the day-to-day realities of young people’s working lives and show them that it’s only together, with our work mates, through the unions that we can take back our future!

Daniel Carlstedt

President for UNI Europa Youth and representative for the European Trade Union Federations in the Youth Bureau of the European Trade Union Confederation.

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