The BWI held its first International Youth Committee (IYC) Meeting in Brighton, United Kingdom on 26 May 2019. The meeting brought together the Chairs of the four Regional Youth Committees: Lebohang Vincent Ramabolu (NUM-South Africa) from Africa and the Middle East; Jakob Wagner (BYGGNADS-Sweden) from Europe; Jorge Hernandez (FETRACOMA-Chile) from Latin America and Caribbean; and Ryan Kekeris (IUPAT-United States) from North America; and Aaron Mackrell (CFMEU-Australia) as Vice-Chair from Asia and Pacific. Vasyl Andreyev, Interim Chair of the BWI International Youth Committee (IYC) chaired the meeting.
During the meeting each of the Chairs presented their regional youth activities and plans as well as the regional priorities to share and exchange information. It was clear that despite the region, young people faced common challenges such as high youth unemployment, unpaid internships, and lack of vocational training programs. Due to issues of lack of decent work at home, many young people are forced to migrate often under exploitive conditions. In terms of priorities, the Chairs stressed the need for trade unions to develop organizing campaigns targeting young workers; providing opportunities for young leaders to take leadership positions and launch a comprehensive action plan to combat the rise of right-wing populist parties and movements.
Another critical part of the meeting was to develop a global action plan for the BWI International Youth Committee which will initially focus on formulating common actions and policies to voice issues impacting youth globally. In addition to strengthen the IYC the Chairs committed to strengthen regional structures so that it is functional and operational.
Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary, clearly stated his priority is to make the BWI younger. He continued “The future work of the IYC is now about taking this initiative. You should take the lead and contribute to organising and campaigning. At this point, my role is to support your decisions on what to do in the future.”
The IYC decided to follow up regional youth actions closely and evaluate regional activity reports on actions through a regular youth newsletter to make youth activities more visible to all young workers and BWI affiliates. Besides targeting to train 400 young workers annually, the IYC also stressed the importance of ensuring the participation of youth in BWI activities.
The Committee elected Lebohang Ramabolu as the first BWI International Youth Committee Chair. Jorge Hernandez was elected as the first Vice-Chair while Dayang Salleh (2019) and Ryan Kekeris (2020-2021) were elected to share the position of 2nd Vice-Chair. The election results were presented to the BWI World Council on 29 May for adoption. At the same time, the Global Youth Action Plan was presented by Vasyl Andreyev to the BWI World Council on 29 May 2019. It was unanimously adopted.
Lebohang Ramabolu made a thankful speech when he was introduced to the BWI World Council stating “I am very honoured to be elected to the position of the BWI International Youth Committee Chair. My task is to enhance collective leadership among ourselves in making sure that we achieve the BWI Global Youth Action Plan leading to 2021. We have resolved to lead campaigns and provide policy directives in the interest of youth in our sectors including future of work.”