On August 12, the IUF-affiliated Dairy Employees Federation of India (DEFOI) celebrated International Youth Day for the first time, organizing a conference of young dairy workers from eight districts in the state of Karnataka, India.
Over 40 delegates from dairies in Bangalore, Mandya, Kolar, Ballary, Shimoga, Tumkur, Dharwar and Chamraj Nagar attended the conference. Young workers identified precarious employment as the biggest challenge they face in a rapidly changing dairy industry. As permanent workers retire, young workers are recruited on short-term and temporary contracts and are denied the rights and benefits of permanent workers. At the same time, unions face declining membership and diminished bargaining power. The conference resolved that the fight for permanent jobs – especially for young workers – must be given priority and that efforts must be made to recruit more youth into unions.
Based on the success of DEFOI’s Women’s Action Committees, it was proposed that Youth Committees be established in unions at district and state level. Youth Committees will play an important role in ensuring that the rights and interests of young workers are promoted in union policies and in collective bargaining. The conference concluded with the declaration that, “Young workers need unions and unions need young workers!”