JILAF, together with the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-AP) and the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi), held the 13th Youth Leadership Course in an online format on January 20, 2021, with the participation of 22 people.
At the beginning, after welcoming the participants from various countries, ITUC-AP General Secretary Shoya Yoshida delivered a lecture titled “The Role of Trade Unions in the New Era.” Amid the deteriorating labour environment around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, added to the excesses of the market economy in recent years, it is necessary for trade unions themselves, he said, to strengthen their globalization, enhance their social dialogue capabilities, and build a sense of unity with society.
JILAF Deputy Secretary General Toshihiro Saito then gave a brief introduction, using videos, of JILAF’s program content and commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic is placing socially vulnerable people in an even more vulnerable situation, widening the rich-poor gap, and deepening divisions in society. In these circumstances, this seminar, which brings together young trade union leaders in the Asia-Pacific region, is a significant opportunity to once again consider the role of trade unions.”
In addition, a speaker from the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) of Singapore recalled how the landmark SNTUC Seminar on the Modernization of the Labour Movement in 1969 had affirmed the importance of a shift in industrial relations from confrontation to cooperation, since when efforts had been made to build an effective social partnership. As a result, the speaker said, the number of industrial disputes in Singapore had declined sharply and a favorable cycle had continued in which social and economic stability were bringing about economic growth and the creation of jobs. Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the speaker reported, the NTUC was supporting workers while taking advantage of this experience until now.
Furthermore, a speaker from the OTCi noted that the skills needed by trade union executives included not only leadership skills but also soft skills, such as presentation and communication skills, and a speaker from the ITUC’s Global Organizing Academy (GOA) remarked that (1) for organization to be successful, it was necessary to direct effective campaigns and elaborate strategies toward the targets of organization; (2) if organization is successful and the strength of trade unions increases, it will be possible also to move society; and (3) precisely now, the pandemic provides a good chance for organization expansion.
These lectures were followed by an open session in which the participants gave brief self-introductions, stated their opinions, and asked questions. ITUC-AP General Secretary Yoshida then ended the seminar with some words of encouragement to the participants, saying, “While continuing to take good care of your health, I hope that in your respective positions you will face up to these difficult conditions.”