Southern Africa: Young unionists ponder digitalisation and future of work

In a three-day Youth Capacity Building Workshop held online on 12 -14 April, young trade unionists from the Southern Africa Construction Network (SACONET) met to discuss the impact of digitalisation in the construction sector and the future of work in Southern Africa. 

The meeting, attended by 22 youth unionists, including 8 women from Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, was organised in collaboration with the Danish trade union 3F. It familiarised the participants with the different examples of digitalisation in infrastructure projects, and the construction sector in general. It also assessed the slow acceptance of technology in Southern Africa’s construction industry.

The workshop proceeded to challenge participants to think of new technologies that could potentially be introduced to their respective countries’ construction sector to ensure that decent work standards are achieved.

The young trade unionists said that it is important for them to work toward the achievement of BWI’s “youth in unions” convergence and link it with digitalisation and the future of work. They agreed to undertake the following achievable practical steps:

  • Establish a digitised sub-regional information center and/or depository;
  • Ensure consistency in the advocacy of labour rights in using various social media platforms;  
  • Negotiate directly with training institutions to allow for the electronic transmission of training certificates to at least three entities (including the worker, employer, and the relevant affiliated trade union; and 
  • Encourage the establishment of predominantly online union registration and data maintenance processes.

The SACONET young trade unionists also shared current success stories on digital applications and newly implemented policies for the use and benefit of young workers in the sub region.