The Director of Labour, Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) in Namibia, Ms Hilma Shindondola-Mote has stressed the need for trade unions to use their “power” to influence policy formulations and implementations in favour of the poor and vulnerable in society.
To be able to do this, she said, trade unions should train young members in research-methods in order to provide evidence-based inputs into policies otherwise for policy-makers to understand the complexity of the problems relating to workers.
Ms. Shindondola-Mote was speaking at the opening of the first ever Quadrennial National Youth Delegates Congress of the TUC at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi on Sunday.
The congress, which precedes the 9th Delegates Congress of the TUC also coincided with the UN International Youth Day and would therefore provide the youth the opportunity to engage in policy discourse to legitimately structure youth involvement and participation in the activities of the union.
Touching on the theme of the congress, “Organizing young workers for empowerment, employment security and increased productivity,” Ms Shindondola-Mote said if unions were not tapping into the energy and creativity of young people then the future of trade unionism would be under threat.
“It is even worse because globalization had directly challenged the capacity of trades unions to recruit, organize and to solidify its power base at the workplace.”
Ms Shindondola-Mote advised the over 150 delegates to use the platform to explore policy options and to agree on action plans that would respond in the short-term to the challenges facing young people.
She said they should simultaneously put programmes and develop networks that would assist them to address structural causes of unemployment, poverty and other youth related issues.
Mr. Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary-General of the TUC, said young people roaming the streets and selling anything they laid hands on was worrying because it created real danger to social cohesion and political stability.
He said the nation’s nascent democracy could not thrive where the economy failed to provide decent and productive employment opportunities to the people, particularly the youth.
He said there would be the need to have special campaigns that would seek to address the exploitation of young people in the labour market especially regarding their unions’ rights.
Mr. Bernard Adjei, Deputy General-Secretary, Public Services Workers Union, who chaired meeting, urged young people to actively involved in entrepreneurship and self-employment through vocational training, mentorship and access to cooperative.**