Young leaders and activists from the forestry sector in Pan Europe concluded that the biggest obstacle for economic development in their countries’ rural areas are low wages, which is leading to young people migrating abroad for work.
From 4 to 5 October 2019, more than 20 young activists from forestry unions in Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and Sweden met in Batumi, Georgia to discuss the main issues that young workers face in the forestry sector, and how these issues could be resolved by active trade union work. The meeting was organized with the support of GS Facket of Sweden.
The participants at the meeting stated that the main problem in the forestry sector is unacceptable low wages. In comparison to the construction sector, wages in the forestry industry are two to three times lower. Considering the fact that in Moldova and Kyrgyzstan wages in construction are lower than the average wage in the country, forestry workers are left with a very small take home pay. The Swedish participants also stated that in Sweden the wages in forestry are 20 to 30 percent lower than in construction.
Low wages in the forestry sector throughout Pan Europe is the main reason why young workers are forced to migrate to work in Turkey, Russia, and European Union countries. With young people going abroad for work, the average age of workers in forestry is very high.
“We need to find creative and innovative ways to revitalize our unions. The energy of the youth can be the driving force to do this, as well as change the very poor conditions of forestry workers. It is clear that the situation is the same in all the three countries, and we can assume thjs is the same case in other Pan European countries. We need to combine our efforts in Pan Europe and fight together for decent work in the forestry sector,” said Shota Javakhadze, vice-president of the forestry workers union from Georgia.
The participants agreed that they need to form Pan European Youth in Forestry Network and establish communication platform as Facebook Sub regional Youth in Forestry group.