Guyana: GAWU Young Workers Committee Launched

On May 16, 2007, twenty people from the leadership and staff of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), including the union’s president and general secretary, met with Jorge Chullén, the IUF global sugar coordinator to formulate some strategies to encouraging youths to be a part of the trade union movement. The IUF coordinator facilitated a discussion on this initiative by young workers in GAWU, which also relates to a resolution passed by the recent 25th Congress of the IUF (19-22 March 2007).
The discussion, based on a participatory approach to planning future activities, allowed the attendees to identify some of the main objectives sought by GAWU’s Youth Program, which they identified as ‘To secure the existence of the Trade Union Movement’. They also exchanged opinions on the skills required to reach such goal, and the several activities that would support their work. After a lively exchange of opinions, the meeting decided that the first activity of GAWU’s Young Workers Program will be a two-day workshop on HIV/AIDS to be held in September 2007, targeting young workers from among GAWU’s membership.
As well, the meeting agreed to the formation of a committee of volunteers, comprising Aslim Singh, Jennifer Persaud, Narda A. E. Mohamed and Waheeda Saheed, to coordinate the Young Workers Program, and will be responsible for organizing this first activity.
A document “Getting Youths involved in the Leadership of Trade Union” was at hand to motivate the participants. The document proposes:
1. There should be specific issues and attractions for youths included in the Union’s Collective Bargaining Agreements.
2. Training and apprenticeship programs or active employment policies is great encouragement.
3. Unions must be visible and accessible to defend their rights and interests.
4. Demonstrate activities and achievements to foster awareness of your Trade Union.
5. Priorities and strategies should be formed by youths to develop and organize activities to promote their awareness.
6. Introduce a quota of young workers participation in your training programs and decision making bodies.
7. Education for youths should be made as an immense priority within the Trade Union body.
8. Youths should be included in Union organising and campaigning to develop appreciation of their occupation.
9. Listen to them – Young people bring enthusiasm and fresh ideas; and loves to work when they appreciate their jobs. Help them to help you make the Trade Union Establishment a greater place to work.
(With reports from Narda Mohamed, GAWU.)

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    • Narda A. E. Mohamed on June 6, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Cde Chullen,
    To add to that – The committee requests that unions in the IUF network which have information addressing organizing issues among young workers in agriculture to send it by electronic mail to [email protected]

    • Nigel Indar Paul on June 21, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    It’s great to see a Trade Union giving some priority to attracting young people to the movement.
    In Trinidad there is still some apprehension about the Trade Union movement among young people. They’re trained in a school of thought that Trade Unions are a destructive force and an impediment to progress.
    I think the Trade Union movement has a responsibility to initiate its own education programme to attract young people into its folds.
    Good luck to GAWU in there initiative.

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