To remain at the forefront of the struggle for workers’ rights, the Quebec and Canadian labour movement must constantly renew itself, adapting to the social and economic changes underway. Mobilizing the next generation is a key element as several post-pandemic challenges emerge.
According to the Chaire-réseau de recherche sur la jeunesse du Québec, the unionization rate among young people is about 35%. This is slightly lower than the Quebec average of 39%, a figure taken from 2019 employment data from the Interuniversity Research Centre for Organizational Analysis (CIRANO). A need for flexibility among young people, illustrated by the trend of slashing, which consists of voluntarily holding several jobs, or job hopping – the act of changing jobs frequently – makes it difficult for unions to federate them.
For the past six years, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec has organized its Semaine de la relève syndicale to encourage new members to join the unions, federations and the Centrale. For its part, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) has focused its
2023 convention on the future of unionism and is considering other ways to reach young people, who are more individualized, particularly through social media. The changing labour market, currently more favourable to employees with the labour shortage, is driving the interest in what young people want.
What the next generation wants
According to a recent study conducted by Angus Reid for Indeed Canada, work-life balance is fundamental for Generation Z. Of those surveyed in Quebec, 76% consider it to be “a key element in building loyalty to an organization”. Half of the respondents are even willing to
“compromise on a better salary” to take advantage of time off.
Telecommuting has been on the rise since the COVID-19 crisis and is a popular option, but it must be regulated to the benefit of workers, according to the FTQ, which made it a priority issue at its annual convention. “Telecommuting must be a free, informed and revocable choice, at any time, for each employee,” the union says.
Climate change and the adaptation of our societies to its consequences are also a focus of concern, as are social issues such as the recognition of systemic racism and sexism in the workplace.