Africa and Middle East: Young workers fight COVID-19


BWI’s young trade unionists from Africa and the Middle East banded together to collectively respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an online youth exchange programme on last 31 March, 97 young trade unionists and activists, including 37 young women, identified job losses, decreasing work time and salaries, and gender-based violence as pressing issues that they confront, which they said  were worsened by the pandemic. 

BWI Regional and Global Youth Committee Chair Lebohang Vincent Ramabolu said that young workers must adopt innovative ways to defend their rights and ensure the unimpeded work of trade unions in different countries. He encouraged strong youth participation in the unions’ organising academies, global and regional campaigns, and in strengthening their regional youth network.

“COVID-19 is not only a health crisis, but also an economic crisis. Young workers were hit hard by this pandemic. In fact, one in six young workers have lost their jobs since the start of this crisis,” Ramabolu said.  

This was supported by BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng. She said that young workers need to exchange ideas and share information and experiences in order to mount a more effective campaign for better youth employment policies and programmes, and to negotiate for decent and secure jobs. 

“I invite the youth to help us in addressing the different COVID-19 challenges. They can start by building their capacity to organise by maximising the opportunities opened by social media and other digital platforms,” Mofokeng said.