World Day for Decent Work and the time bomb of youth unemployment

After days dedicated to smiling and fun, we return to the serious subject of work – today is World Day for Decent Work. On this day trade unions and other workers associations promote the concept of Decent Work, defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as “work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men”. Activities celebrating the day range from demonstrations to music events to conferences.

This day was launched as part of a larger Decent Work, Decent Life campaign at the World Social Forum in Nairobi in 2007 by five organisations: Solidar, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Social Alert International and the Global Progressive Forum. Since then, it has been organised annually by ITUC.

Millions of people globally are engaged in informal or temporary employment.
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The global economic crisis is still negatively impacting the working class worldwide, and having a particularly brutal impact on young people who lack the necessary work experience to ensure decent jobs, and who are often among the first to be laid off, being the workers with the least seniority. In addressing this problem, the importance of education can of course not be overstated, but often even university degrees and theoretical knowledge is not enough to secure decent employment.

Figures indicate about 75 million young people around the world being without jobs, and millions more caught in informal or temporary employment. Youth unemployment in some countries, particularly in the developing world, has reached levels of up to 60% – a situation that is rightfully considered a social and economic time bomb. A report “The Social Crisis Behind the Economic Crisis – the Millions of Young People Unemployed”was released at the ITUC Youth Committee meeting earlier in the year, focusing on the situation of young European workers and the answers from the trade union movement to the problems they face.

Finding and keeping a job as a young worker can be a very tough challenge.
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This is a massive problem, and one with no obvious, easy solution. One of the ‘citizen actions’ being proposed by the ITUC is for as many as possible people to make themselves heard on the subject, to force action at government level. A very cool way to do this is through the Work Forecast initiative. The Work Forecast website puts you in contact with the Labour Minister in your country, empowering you to ‘take action’. You can tweet your support for improved labour conditions, send your minister a message, or even view his/her facebook page (if they have one).

Go ahead, keep them on their toes – check out your Labour Minister, and let them know how you feel.