FTUC Youth Chairperson’s Reflective Note on the Pacific Launch of the ILO-ADB report on “Tackling the COVID-19 youth employment crisis in Asia and the Pacific”.
The newly elected FTUC Youth Chair sister Mererai Vatege was invited to be part of the above event. She attended this important event together with the FTUC National Treasurer, Brother Agni Deo Singh and FTUC Executive Officer, Sister Jotika Sharma.
At this launch the key findings of the ILO-ADB report and the key findings of the ILO-tripartite rapid assessment on employment and business in Fiji and Samoa were presented.
This was sister Mere’s first official engagement in her capacity as the FTUC Youth Chair. She was also invited to be a panelist at the panel discussion as a voice for young workers to share her views on the impact of COVID-19 on youth employment.
During the panel discussion the following questions was put to Sister Mere;
1) As a young person and representative of young workers, do you think that there has been adequate consultation and engagement of young people in COVID-19 assessments and leading up to the findings, identification and implementation of recovery initiatives?
2) In your opinion, what would be the two key recovery priorities for young workers?
In response to the first question she stated that the Trade Union youth representatives were actively involved in the design, training and the implementation of the survey. She highlighted that they were also out in the field conducting the survey in the chosen sectors; tourism and hospitality, sugar, manufacturing and retail, airport services & the airline industry. She also highlighted that they worked closely with ILO in finding solutions to assist young workers who have been terminated.
In response to the second question sister Mere highlighted the following 2 important key priority recovery areas;
- One thing that COVID-19 has exposed is that there is no social security protection scheme for young workers. We have relied entirely on our Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF). This is something that the government needs to look at and ensure that there is a social protection scheme for young workers.
- There is a need to relook at the main sectors/drivers of the economy. COVID-19 has exposed another issue that is we place all our eggs in one basket and relied heavily on the Tourism industry. We need to look at new and emerging sectors we can tap into to help increase the employability of young people.
It is worthy to note that sister Mere’s responses were well received by those in attendance and she was also commended by one of the attendees for highlighting the key issues faced by young workers in the country especially the use of our superannuation fund during difficult times. She was also commended for being the lone female panelist at this event.