Young workers from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, and Sweden met in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to discuss issues surrounding Quality Public Services, Tax Justice and Gender Equality.
Drawn from the various sectors of PSI’s work: education, energy, water, health, and local governance, the participants engaged in mainly group discussions to enable them to share their experiences especially with their colleagues from Sweden on the various thematic areas.
The PSI Pilot Trade Union School, organized by the PSI Young Workers and Projects Facilitator, Cedric Depollier, and the Sub-Regional Secretary for English-Speaking Africa, Everline Aketch, was aimed at setting the work method for future schools that will be held in six other regions in the future.
The agenda for the meetings included:
Generally, the three-day event discussed the challenges that face trade unions and what unions can do to consolidate the positive attributes of trade unions while negating the negatives; solidarity, recruitment, inclusiveness of both young workers and women in leadership positions, education and capacity building for members on various issues including the ILO Conventions.
In terms of tax justice, it was clear that as youths it was important that they join the campaign since provision of domestic revenue was not only critical in provision of quality public services but also job creation by the government. Issues of current tax justice debates including illicit financial flows were discussed.
Tax levied was found to be not progressive and a majority of low incomes earners were paying more compared to the high earning corporations. They also noted that the high taxes discourage young workers from entering the production sector and working hard.
Gender equality and equity was seen as a critical element of the trade unions work. The young workers observed that if trade unions address the issues of gender equality at all levels, including the unions themselves, then more women will be encouraged to join the trade unions. They stressed that unions must walk the talk of implementing gender equality by:
- Advocating for affirmative action in leadership positions
- Undertaking education and capacity building for women
- Developing gender policies that will address issues like parental care among others.
General analysis of gender equality as reflected by various top union leadership positions was made and it was found that a majority of the trade unions were still lagging behind in terms of ensuring equitable representation of women and youths at top decision-making organs.
The youth academy was completed by a Parliamentary tour where the Young workers were given the opportunity to learn about the history and working method of parliament. They later attended the proceedings of the parliament. In addition, a visit was made to the Immigration office. Young workers were taken through the functions of the different departments and also the process of citizenship and the laws that govern us.