Desislava at the GLI summer school – Desislava Yaneva I come from Bulgaria. I work for the Bulgarian confederation CITUB and I am a vice president of Youth Forum 21st Century, which is our trade union youth organization. First of all I would like to th …

Walton Pantland
Desislava at the GLI summer school

Desislava at the GLI summer school

– Desislava Yaneva

I come from Bulgaria. I work for the Bulgarian confederation CITUB and I am a vice president of Youth Forum 21st Century, which is our trade union youth organization.

First of all I would like to thank GLI for inviting us and giving us Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria the opportunity to take part in this year’s International Summer School in Northern College, UK.

As a participant in this GLI school I would like to give some further information about the issues of youth unemployment in our country.

Of all the countries in EU, Bulgaria has the highest risk of poverty and social exclusion. This is because of seriously negative demographic growth, high levels of young people who neither study nor work, and because there are a lot of youngsters who prefer to emigrate.

According to a survey conducted by our union at the end of last year, poverty is growing and about 1.5 million people below the poverty line. About 80% Bulgarians live in destitution because they give 50% of their salaries for food. And the prices of the food are constantly rising as well. So only 20% of families manage to live normally.

Approximately 30% of youth are unemployed in Bulgaria. Those who do work and are less than 20 years old, receive the half of the pay of older workers doing the same job.

If we compare the level of education with the level of wages, we will find out that young graduates earn 85% more than youth with only secondary school qualifications.

In this period of economic crisis it is important for young people to retain their employment because they can’t easily change jobs. Also, unemployed youth have a very small chance of getting back into the labour market.

In conclusion, we need to change government policy: there is no alternative.

  • We should fight for high quality work through collective bargaining and reforms in the education system
  • We should create a flexible Life Long Learning education system and should think about dual system in order to minimize the space between the worker and the employer.
  • We have to pay more attention to fostering apprenticeships, to provide more placement opportunities.
  • We need a youth guarantee agreement.
  • We must emphasize that part time work is a possible part of the solution.

In the context of the topic “What are the political challenges facing the trade union movement” we figured out several important issues – but the most significant challenge is achieving increasing incomes through collective bargaining!

We need to find a common language and struggle and improve the conditions for workers and especially young workers – including to defend the national priorities on European level.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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