The BWI European Regional Youth Committee was held on 13 November 2019 in Chisinau, Moldova with participation of five out of six committee members along with members of the Regional Youth Network.
Mandated by the Regional Youth assembly, that was held in April 2019 in Sweden, the Regional Youth Committee discussed and finalised the BWI European Youth Action plan for the period 2019 – 2021 and the priorities for 2020. Both were endorsed by the BWI European Regional Committee on its session of 14 of November in Chisinau.
The Regional Youth Action Plan contains thirteen action points structured under three main areas of BWI’s work: Build! Defend! and Advance! The plan outlined the dates for common actions and campaign activities to be undertaken throughout Pan Europe and they are as follows. March 8 International Women’s Day; April 28 International Workers Memorial Day under the slogan of “Life before profit”; and May 1, August 12, and October 7, where actions will focus on decent work under the heading of “Work life balance”.
During the meeting participants shared information on major youth activities and campaigns in Europe and at the international level, including various national, regional and global youth academies. It was noted that there is a need for annual trainings regionally and that activities at sub-regional level play a strong role in fostering activism, enhancing communication and campaigning. The committee also recognized that building and developing cooperation with other movements who fight for justice and better position of youth is of importance in outreaching to youth in not only at the workplace, but also in schools, especially of young migrant workers.
The shortcomings of the European Union Erasmus Education program were discussed at the meeting. The committee stated that the program should allow not only young university students, but also enable young workers in the trades to partake in vocational education trainings for one semester, as is the case in Germany, where only 28 young people out of 20,000 have benefited from this program. The other challenge is that there is no unified system of mutual recognition of the education program in many of the trades, so that Vocational Education Training students in some cases have to repeat the same semester spent outside the country.
Per-Olof Sjöö, BWI President addressed the meeting by stressing role of the committee to increase the visibility of young workers in the BWI sectors. He stated, “We would like to see more young workers in our sectors of construction, building materials, wood and forestry with decent working conditions and a decent life. For this we must organise them.”
In concluding the meeting, Jakob Wagner, Chair of the BWI European Regional Committee stated, “In recent years, youth have been the most active in calling for a better future, climate protection and democracy. We as young workers and unionists are now seeking improvement of working conditions, workplace protection and vocational training through solidarity in action. For us international solidarity is always inclusive, which means that we will never tolerate gender discrimination, racism or nationalism. These are our common values which serve as starting point for achieving the agreed activities of the 2019-2021 Regional Youth Action. It will mean a lot of work will need to be done by the unions together with their youth.”