Young workers from PSI Ugandan affiliates from the National Union of Educational Institutions (NUEI), Uganda Electricity and Allied Workers Union (UEAWU), Uganda Public Employees Union (UPEU), Uganda Medical Workers Union (UMWU), National Union of Government and Allied Workers (NUGAW), Uganda Local Government Workers’ Union (ULGWU) and Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) participated in the Young Workers Union Training organised in the framework of the project implemented by PSI in partnership with Kommunal and Union to Union on "Organising workers for trade union unity of action, density and quality public services in East Africa" that has been running from 2018-2022.
The main objectives of the meeting were to:
Make an analysis relating to attitudes by young workers towards trade unionism
Highlight Trade Union Values and Principles and how they are used inside and outside of the trade unions.
Understanding the basic concept of effective leadership among young workers.
Young workers discussed a number of issues including challenges and opportunities for young worker leaders to ascend to leadership positions and how to attract more young workers to join the trade union movement.
In term of challenges faced by young workers, it was observed that many thought trade unions were for the older generation, that they were not too attractive in terms of the issues they articulated and that they did not go beyond salary enhancement. Additionally, the lack of education for rank and file had created a mass of young workers ignorant of the value of trade unionism. The collection of union dues is seen as a reduction in disposal income, which discourages a number of them from joining the union. The inadequate engagement of unions at leadership level and in negotiation process was also cited by many unions as an impediment to the full participation of young workers within the trade union movement.
However, some unions have registered great progress in terms of young workers’ engagement and participation in union activities through the active engagement of young workers’ committee and the opportunity to run for national positions, among others. In terms of opportunities, young workers noted that the use of digital platforms would create visibility of trade union work and its importance. Innovative ways of engaging young workers could be explored, including sports galas, among others. Online capacity building training to bridge the knowledge gap could also be used.
In their interactions with the national leaders during strategic organising workshops, the young workers urged their leaders to provide mentoring opportunities, to organise shop level education activities for the young workers’ committee. On the other hand, young workers were advised to embrace the value of volunteerism and availability for mentoring and building public confidence required for effective nurturing and mentoring.