The International Young Christian Workers (IYCW) has opened its 12th world council with a demand "for social protection and the right to permanent work with decent conditions for young workers."
"Together in action for future of work" is the theme of the meeting, which is taking place Sept. 29-Oct. 15 at Thanjavur in southern India's Tamil Nadu state. The ancient temple town is 2,450 kilometers south of New Delhi.
Thiruvalluvar Yovel, IYCW's president, told UCA News that about 60 delegates from across the world would be reflecting on their current work reality "in a rapidly globalizing society." He said this would help young workers use the movement's "see-judge-act" methodology to develop positive alternatives to the current models of globalization and global corporations.
The participants will also celebrate the World Day for Decent Work on October 7.
"Our aim," Yovel explained, "is to focus on the precarious reality of young workers and demand action. We are a social movement with a vision for a new society. We want young workers to become aware of their own reality, and the world to become aware of the growing insecurity and unacceptable conditions of work and life."
He pointed out that IYCW has also launched a global campaign, "Social Protection - Our Right," to educate young workers and for policy advocacy.
Yovel said the meeting will try to make world leaders heed young workers' demand for permanent decent work and social protection for all. In his view, it is possible to provide social protection for all by allocating more government resources by reducing expenses on arms and luxuries.
Before the meeting opened, the delegates spent Sept. 26-27 visiting four villages in Thanjavur district, and interacted with farm laborers and dalit workers to understand their situation. An IYCW press release noted that they also met some young women workers in the unorganized sector.
On Sept. 28, IYCW organized a public meeting and rally in Thanjavur to demand social protection for all sections of society.
IYCW now has members in 35 countries. It came to life in 1919 when Cardinal Josef Cardijn, then a priest, founded the Young Trade Unionists to defend young workers' rights in Belgium.
It was renamed Young Christian Workers in 1924, and by 1957 it had 30,000 members worldwide. Pope Pius XII recognized it as an international movement, and Pope Paul VI honored Father Cardijn in 1965 by making him a cardinal.
See also the IYCW World Council website: Together in Action