This generation has been been hit the hardest by the global economic crisis. Decent work opportunities are increasinly rare and many quality jobs have been replaced with precarious positions - often hidden under the guise of entrepreneurism.

Combined with reduced job opportunities in the public sector, trade unions are finding it increasingly difficult to organise young workers, disrupting the renewal of the labour movement and its capacity to adapt to the new forms of work in our globalised economies.

The 2015 ILO's World Employment Social Outlook reports that only 14% of the workers have access to a permanent contract in middle-income countries while 75% of the workers have temporary, informal or self-employed jobs. The situation in even worse in low-income countries.

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The young workers represented by PSI and within our unions are fighting to:


  • increase opportunities for young people in the public sector
  • organise precarious workers who may not fit within traditional models
  • strengthen young worker leaders within our organisations
  • defending access to quality public services, including education and skills training, for young people


'Youth are the future' is an old cliche. We believe that youth are the present and need to be included as a strong and integral part of our movement NOW.

Youth Struggles

around the world

43 %

of workers in the EU under 24 are on fixed-term contracts

1/4 public employers

have a formal process for transitioning temporary workers to full-time contracts

80 %

of young workers in Africa are in the informal economy

Putting young workers at the core of our movement.

Throughout our movement's history, young people have been at the forefront of our activism and our victories.

But increasingly, these workers are being pushed into forms of employment which unions have fought hard against - short term contracts, no fixed hours, poor conditions disguised as 'self-employment.'

Cuts to public services have increased costs for education, healthcare and transport while decimating job opportunities for young people in the public sector which, in turn, reduces our ability to recruit younger members.

Decades of attacks from neo-liberal politicians mean that many younger people have a misunderstanding (or no understanding at all) of what unions exist for. It is up to us to change this.

Rosa Pavanelli General Secretary, Public Services International

"The leaders of my trade union trusted the young workers from the student protest movement. Now, we must follow their bold example if we want the unions to have a future."

The high turnover created by temporary employment makes it increasingly difficult for trade unions to organise. By keeping young workers in a precarious position, employers are able to increase their control and discourage unionisation or speaking out on workplace issues.

As a result, many of the most vulnerable workers, with the worst conditions, are left unrepresented and reluctant to get organised out of fear of risking their future career opportunities.

This system rewards individual self-interest and undermines the capacity of trade unions to recruit members and build collective power.

To overcome this challenge, the way forward is clear: we need to bring more young workers into our movement: to help them realize their strength in numbers and prove our relevance by improving their conditions.

  • In 2016, PSI adopted a new strategy to strengthen and build the capacities of young trade unions leaders so they can get as much knowledge, experience and leadership skills as possible.
  • The last PSI congress in November 2017 took the decision to double the number of young workers representative seating in the Executive Board and to bring one to the Steering Committee.

Our movement needs to adapt and respond to changes in the labour market and ensure that young workers remain a inegral part of our unions.

Both decisions acknowledge the need for contributions, ideas and proposals from young workers to better address the new challenges appearing in the world of work and attract more young workers to join the movement.

What do we do?

We defend young workers against the new challenges appearing in the world of work and increase their involvement across our organisations.

We equip young workers with new skills

PSI runs training workshops and capacity building projects for young union leaders around the world.

We mentor

We promote mentorship programs between established union-leaders and young workers.

We increase young worker participation

We fight for at least 30% of participants in our activities to be young workers.

We educate

We produce research on youth labour trends and share best practices.

We represent

We bring the voices and issues of young workers to the International Labour Organisation and other global forum.

We network

Our conferences and events help connect young workers and build their collective power.

Demba Karyom Federation des Syndicats du Secteur Public du Tchad (FSPT)

"They who have already walked the path, I will follow their footsteps and I'll move forward with them."

Demba is a Legal Assistant working in the Ministry of Justice in Chad. Through her work, she assists victims of abuse, rape and mistreatment win Justice. She is also one of the leaders of the youth movement and a union delegate.

Video

As public legal assistant for victims of rape and abuse, Demba uses the law to fight injustices in Chad - while fighting to maintain her hope.

Justice - A Public Service

Take Action

Do you want to celebrate International Youth Day with PSI and the UN?

Please contact PSI Young Workers Coordinator at cedric.depollier@world-psi.org and check the UN toolkit.

Want to know more about how unions and young people are linking up to fight climate change?

Join the global climate strike. Learn more on our campaign platform.


Want to find out about your labour rights at work?

Check out the key ILO standards which should help keep you covered.

Have a tip on an employer who is abusing the workers rights of young people?

Leak to us.

Keen to learn more about how Unions and the ILO are facing up to the challenges of the future of work?