Young people, the most vibrant and creative section of society and as the most vulnerable category of working people, are experiencing on a daily basis the consequences of the world economic crisis and the brunt of anti-worker policies.
As a result of these practices and policies, today’s young generation, which are among the most vulnerable groups of the population, are facing mass unemployment and uncertainty about their future. They are victims of flexible forms of employment and are not protected by collective agreements, witnessing discriminations, marginalisation and social exclusion. Young working people are forced to work in various forms of flexible employment such as part-time work, personal contracts, without healthy working conditions and trade union rights.
Youth today are called upon to live in a harsh adverse environment where the right to work is subordinated to competitiveness, the attempt to maximise profits whilst unemployment has become a nightmare for every young person.
Today 27 million people are unemployed in the European Union and outside the labour market with all the severe social consequences this entails, whilst at the same time youth unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels.
According to statistical data, in February 2013, which do not reflect the true picture entirely, youth unemployment has risen sharply to 64.20% in Greece (from 50.40% in the corresponding month in 2012), to 55.50& in Spain (from 50.5% in 2012), to 38.70% in Italy (from 31.90% in 2012), 38.60% in Portugal (from 35.40%), 35.90% IN Slovakia, 30.80% in Ireland, 28.40% in Cyprus, 26.90% in France, whilst its around 20% in Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg and Estonia. The corresponding percentages for the 27 EU member states and the Eurozone countries amount to 23.60% and 24.20%, that is to say 5,694,000 and 3,581,000 young unemployed persons under the age of 25 respectively. Overall employment rates among young people over the last four years have fallen by 5 %, from 37.30% to 32.80%, three times higher in comparison to older working people.
The European Commission has called upon the member-states to proceed to the implementation of measures and has called for a session of the Ministers of Labour to convene in July on the issue of tackling unemployment among young people. At the same time it has proceeded to propose a recommendation to the member states to adopt a number of programmes such as the “European Youth Guarantee”. With this specific programme, the European Union is proposing to governments that they safeguard that employment will be offered to young European citizens not later than four months from the date they were made redundant or have concluded their studies, or the possibility of following some vocational, education or apprentice programme.
The European Regional Office of the World Federation of Trade Unions WFTU believes that these policies and decisions cannot mobilise and overcome the inertia of an economic system that is in and out of recession and is mercilessly plagued by austerity.
Capitalism as an economic system which idolises profit imposes individualism and questions organised struggle and social solidarity. It seeks to convert every young person into an element alienated from social affairs and detached from collective action.
The global crisis of capitalism demonstrates that the class struggle remains timely given that society is divided into classes. At the same time the social conditions in which the movement of young working people is developing its activity are negatively affecting the level of young people’s organisation and involvement.
It is therefore clear that the answer lies in the mass growth of the numbers of the class-based trade union movement. The answer is to be found in class solidarity and the unity of the working people all over the world; in the participation of young people within the ranks of the class-orientated trade union movement.
In Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions is active through the European Regional Office for the defence of the rights of young working people for permanent employment with rights, social insurance with access to education and housing.
Only through the rallying of forces and class struggle can we build the hope for a just world and a qualatively more advanced society where young people can live with rights that will correspond to their needs.