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European Young Christian Workers lament decreasing job security, loss of rights

Young Christians from around Europe have called for improved working conditions and better job security in a Young Christian Workers (YCW) conference in Portugal July 25-29.

Driving the news

Representatives of the YCW national movements of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, England and Wales gathered in Porto to discuss ‘The Future of Work’, as Independent Catholic News reports.

The meet in Portugal was also attended by members of the International Secretariat of the International Coordination of the Young Christian Workers (ICYCW).

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The YCW collective, a movement started in 1925 in Belgium by Fr. (later Cardinal) Joseph Cardijn, encourages young people to get involved in changing the world around them, inspired by the Gospels and Catholic Social Teaching.

Speaking about the Portugal conference, of which he was a co-organiser, new YCW England and Wales President Marc Besford celebrated the fact that “young people were able to share their experiences of working life, what motivates them and what makes them happy”.

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“They also discussed concerns about the future of work, since we are facing a new revolution that is evolving faster than ever”, Besford added.

“With the growth of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, we have reached a point of unprecedented challenge and this is already being felt by many young workers around the world”.

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For the record

The Portugal YCW conference collected in a joint statement a series of concerns young people have about work and their ideas for overcoming these problems.

Participants released the following statement:

Young people are concerned about:

  • The increase in precarious work and decreasing job security;
  • Low salaries at the start of their working life;
  • The abolishment of workers’ rights;
  • Workers mental health;
  • The impact of work on the environment;
  • The lack of training and job opportunities.

We believe that:

  • Young people should be treated with dignity and respect;
  • Young workers should be sufficiently paid for the work that they do, and be provided with adequate knowledge to do their job;
  • Young people must not be discriminated against solely because they are young;
  • Employers should allow an improved work-life balance to encourage adequate rest therefore enabling better mental wellbeing.
  • Our call to society is that they pay attention to what we say, to rely on us to conceive a future where:
  • Technology is there to assist and improve the quality of life for human beings; never the other way round;
  • Their God-given dignity can be respected in every aspect, especially in the workplace, where they fulfil their vocation;
  • Sustainability, freedom, peace and love are present in every aspect of our lives, for example: in politics and in all our places of work, study and leisure, and in our homes.

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