Training International Youth Leaders for Tomorrow’s Unions

By Arthur Lee

Unity in diversity is often overused to describe a group of different individuals with a common goal.

But when you get a diverse group of individuals from various countries coming together with a common goal to improve the lot of the workers in their own country, then that is really UNITY IN DIVERSITY.

10th Youth Leadership Course

In September, a group of 38 youth representatives from the Labour Movements of the Asia-Pacific region came together in Singapore for a two-week Youth Leadership Course jointly organised by the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) together with the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi) and the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF).

The course saw the participants engaged in discussions about international labour standards and skilled trainings to develop trade union actions and strategies.

Why Singapore?

But here’s the thing, why was a regional Youth Leadership Course for young union leaders held here in Singapore?

(FYI, this is the tenth time that the course is held in Singapore. It has been conducted here since the 1990s.)

The participants of the Youth Leadership Course come from countries such as India, Myanmar, Taiwan, Fiji and even Vanuatu.

These countries are likely to be still developing their economies, and their trade unions are also growing and developing.

In that sense, Singapore’s trade union movement can be considered more developed and it has much to share with the participants so that they can bring back those learning experiences to their countries and allow their own Labour Movement to grow.

Uniquely Singapore

Ms Keiko Uchida, a senior officer from the ITUC-AP Secretariat office, who hails from Japan says that the Singapore Labour Movement is very unique.

“Tripartism is very unusual. And it works in Singapore. SNTUC (Singapore National Trades Union Congress) is very actively working for workers and society”.

She adds that the SNTUC builds mutual trust beyond the trade union movement. “This is the key to building constructive relations,” she said.

Beyond just Tripartism where the unions, Government and the Employers have good working relations, the Singapore Labour Movement also does more to help improve the lives of workers in Singapore for a better future, such as having social enterprises to provide access to quality and affordable products and services, pushing for skills upgrading and training to prepare working people for future challenges.

It is no wonder why unions around the region have good words for the Singapore brand of trade unionism.

“In every country, the government does not make the nation, the nation makes the country…this is our responsibility, we should work for the people. When I go back home i want to be a part of this change. For example i see Singapore is a very clean country. So we can also make our citizens help to keep our country clean.”

– M. Edress Armin, National Union of Afghanistan Workers and Employees.

“The union in Singapore is very developed. As we know, the new President (of Singapore) was a unionist. She is an example for all of us women who want to progress in the union.”

– Claudine Tom, Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions.

“In Singapore the unions are connected to each other. They communicate to each and every worker. So I want to bring those qualities to India and connect each and every youth and women because they are a little weaker there. I want to connect all of them and make India better.”

– Aadhira Sudhiv, Indian National Trade Union Congress.

This article first appeared on Five Stars And A Moon. It is reproduced with permission.


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