250 young unionists energise webinar

250 young unionists attended and brought youthful energy to a webinar organised by BWI, together with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Education International (EI), The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), International Transport workers’ Federation (ITF), IndustriAll, Public Services International (PSI) and UNI on 6 July. Titled “COVID-19: Amplifying youth voices,” the webinar is the first in a series of webinars for young trade unionists. 

The webinar was led by BWI International Youth Committee Member Gopinath Pannaerselvam, who was one of the main speakers. The online discussion focused on the major impacts of COVID-19 on young workers, particularly on their employment, ability to exercise their rights and health and safety challenges posed to those employed in essential economic areas and the public service delivery sector. Increased violence and online harassment against LGBT workers and mental health challenges among the youth were also deliberated. 

Pannaerselvam, who is also the President of the All Indian Construction Workers Central Union’s (AIKTMS) youth wing, spoke also on the challenges faced by young migrant workers and the various humanitarian efforts initiated by young workers to help their fellow workers. In particular, he mentioned the representations that they have submitted to the Indian Government to draw attention to the serious issues young Indian workers deal with as a result of the pandemic. 

“Young workers are being hit hard by the pandemic, while young migrant workers are suffering more and more from the negative impact of the pandemic. In fact, we are called the lockdown generation, a generation of young people who are suffering from deep uncertainty and increasing hopelessness. I would like to remind my fellow young workers that all hope is not lost. We still have the power to change the system. If young trade unionists will work together, we can build a better world,” Pannaerselvam said. 

The next youth-led webinar is scheduled on 28 July.