Manila Youth Summit puts spotlight on young workers in Asia-Pacific

12 August 2018 07:11

New generation of trade unionists athe ASETUC Youth Summit in Manila, Philippines 

A cross-sectoral Youth Summit was held in Manila this week. According to BWI, it has helped to develop and recognise the struggles of young workers as being at the centre of the fight for global justice. The meeting was organised by the ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC), and involved participants from unions affiliated to BWI, UNI and PSI.

“Young workers are breaking the sound barrier and making sure their voices are heard across their region,” said BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “Youth perspectives on the struggles of the trade union movement – for decent regularised job creation, living wages, safety on the job, safe migration – are integral to our vision of a collective democratic future.”

As well as representatives from BWI’s affiliates from across the Philippines, the BWI delegation also featured young leaders from Malaysia, Cambodia, South Korea and Ukraine. This event is in keeping with and a form of follow-up to successful youth lobbying at the BWI World Congress in Durban in December 2017, which approved youth representation on the World Board and the institutionalised youth structures.

“The job market that young people are entering today is very different from that of our parents’ generation, or even a decade ago”, said Chhlonh Sou, Vice President of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Confederation of Cambodia. “More than half of Cambodia’s population are under 30, and yet we are ruled by old men. Establishing stronger youth structures within our trade union movement is an essential step in the creation of sustainable democracy in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Youth Summit took place from 10-13 August. It covered trade union activities for International Youth Day. Discussion topics also include trade union rights, trade justice, climate change, migration, occupational health and safety and broad democracy issues. Currently, trade unions in the Philippines are lobbying in support of the ‘Security of Tenure Law’ to put an end to precarious work; a key struggle for youth and trade union movements in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. 


Over half of the participants who attended the youth summit were young women. “Having women at the forefront of our movement is critical,” said Jane Vargas, representing a BWI member organisation in the Philippines, the NUBCW, "The gender session was among the most challenging for many participants, but I know many of the delegates perceptions’ have been shifted.”