United against (youth) precarity! in Strunjan

Maria Fedina is a Master’s student in Human Geography (University of Eastern Finland) and an EVS volunteer International Department of Movement for Decent Work and Welfare Society.

There hasn’t been any news from the international department for some time, so now it’s time to correct it! The biggest event happened since the last post is, of course, the meeting with representatives of the NGOs and trade union from 5 countries, namely Slovakia, Italy, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria, happened in March in Strunjan. A lot of work was done prior the meeting. Preparing lectures and workshops, thinking about and planning different activities, getting in touch with the participants, reading their articles on the national cases of precarity, contacting the hotel, booking and rebooking rooms, and doing a lot of other smaller administrative tasks – that’s how last few weeks before the event were looking like for us.  Considering that it was a new thing to do for the two thirds of our team, we were really trying to do our best in preparing the meeting (anyway, it doesn’t mean that if we would be the masters of the international meetings preparation, we would put less effort into it; maybe, it would take us less time J).

No matter how well we were prepared we couldn’t predict all the issues we would encounter with. Luckily, the biggest ones, and maybe the only ones, happened before we came to Strunjan, so we had some time to arrange them. Borut, who, as planned, would be leading a workshop on introduction to what precarity is, got ill after really tough work schedule he had the previous weeks, so we needed to quickly substitute him. So, Miran took the role of the opening lecturer (which he, considering all the obstacles, managed to play rather well).

Illness affected not only the organizers, but also the participants. Till the very last moment we were not exactly sure that Maja, a representative of Centar za mirovne studije from Zagreb, will be able to recover and come to the meeting. Luckily, she came safe and sound at the end of the first day.

In total the meeting lasted 4 days, from Monday till Thursday, first and last one being the opening and the closing days. Monday was mostly dedicated to get-to-know-each-other actitivites, like trip to Piran and Slovenian night, and acquainting with the participants’ sending or home organizations. Here I believe I should introduce all those who came to our meeting: Priscilla and Guilia from Uiltemp, Italian trade union of atypical workers, Jozef, a graduated Law student sent by Association of Development, Education, and Labour from Slovakia, Maja from Croatian Centar za mirovne studije, Denitsa and Denis sent by Walk Together Association from Sofia, Bulgaria, and Andreea and Diana, the employees of Cluj-Napoca city hall sent by Romanian Support for Youth Development Association. And, of course, Gibanje za dostojno delo was represented by Miran, Natalya and Maša, who were later accompanied by Marko who came to meet with the participants and lead one workshop. A rather small group, but, as it ended up, a perfect-sized for the workshops and other activities, which required active participation of all people.

Slovenian coast is great and was quite warm in the middle of March, but its beauties shouldn’t  have distracted us from the purpose of our meeting – to educate ourselves on the issues related to atypical and precarious work and employment and to think about what we can do together on this matter. After the first day, when some of participants revealed that they are not the members of the organizations, which sent them, we were unsure how much would the content of our meeting be interesting and relevant to all of them. Was it because of the personal interest of the participants or because of our great organizational skills (J), but during next two days of work even people who had heard about phenomenon of precarity for the first time just few weeks before they came to Slovenia were actively sharing their thoughts and personal stories. We can count this as a success, can’t we?

Discussion during each workshop and lecture was indeed interesting, and what was good for us, the organizers, often fuelled by the participants themselves. We talked about types of employment and work contracts in our countries, situation with youth un/employment, shared the statistics and talked how can officials play with them to present the situation sugar-coated, discuss the formation of precariat and labour related changes happened in our countries and many other topics, which were raised during the conversation.

The evening of the last working day was dedicated to brainstorming the ways of our cooperation on the matters, which were brought up during the meeting. We introduced our idea of international platform, which was positively accepted by the participants, who also proposed some valuable recommendations and improvements to it. We will take all of them into account now, while writing the application for our next grant, which will be dedicated to continuation of strategic partnership we established in Strunjan.

From one perspective, I may write many other words about how well the meeting went, but instead to conclude this post I will present to you some of the statistics from feedback we got from the participants. The lecture “What is precarity” got 8,89 points out of 10, “Youth and precarity” – 9,105, “What is needed to overcome precarity” – 9,2125. The general usefulness of the meeting was assessed by 9,28 points, novelty of the content – 8,25, organization of the meeting – 9,75, structure of the meeting – 9,75, and fulfillment of the participants’ expectations got 9,875 points. And I can proudly note that work of the coordinators before and during the meeting got 10 points!

Currently, we are in the last stages of the project – establishment of the website, which will later serve as a platform for like-minded organizations, and preparation of all reports. We have less than a month left, so that means that intense work is awaiting us.

Other news, unfortunately, are not that positive. Our application for the next EVS volunteer hasn’t been accepted, nevertheless, we have reapplied and, hopefully, this time the application will be approved.

Movie nights, the tradition of which was set already some years ago by Artem Chubukov, have come to the end. We were watching Russian movies and series for 4 months and managed to attract around 30 people in total to join us. Hopefully, Gibanje will continue screenings in the next academic year, considering especially the interest of those who were coming to watch the movies.

In terms of my project, two and half months left and still two articles are to be written. I will also switch now to the internal activities, particularly, will provide possible help in preparation of Poletni Tabor and Šola za vse. In meantime, youthpass is needed to be completed too.