Ahead of the 2024 European elections, industriAll Europe’s young members launched their Youth Demands that target the worrying rise of far-right parties across Europe trying to lure young people to vote with false promises. These youth demands go hand in hand with industriAll Europe’s Good Industrial Jobs - 5 Wins 5 Demands Campaign, .that encourages voters to opt for progressive candidates that support good industrial jobs and trade union values, and to combat the worrying rise of far right parties across Europe .

Far right parties pose as the ‘friends of working people’ but once in power they attack trade unions and workers’ rights. This year’s European elections are taking place in a very heated context, with far-right parties threatening to gain ground and increase their positions in the next European Parliament. Young workers are in a particularly vulnerable position, bearing the burden of the last three crises in past 15 years.

More and more young people feel left behind by mainstream political parties. Fewer young people are turning to vote, and those who do are falling into the trap of far-right narratives. It is our responsibility as trade unions to act against this working trend and to expose the far-right discourse.

IndustriAll Europe has started political education to combat the rise of the far right with its first training workshop during which young members learnt to identify far right discourses and to counter them with our own values.

The danger of far right to workers and their trade unions:

Now is the time to act against a shocking reality. Research shows that the far right has been doing very well at the expense of the mainstream, as they have tripled in the last decade. The austerity imposed after the previous 2008-09 financial crisis by mainstream centrist parties highly contributed to this worrying trend.

More and more far right parties are entering governments and the ‘cordon sanitaire’ is increasingly broken as they start to be considered legitimate competitors. This leads to a worrying normalisation of the far right and brings them in a position where they will implement laws designed to outlast them. Trade unions and workers’ rights are often the targets of these restricting laws, as we have seen in Italy, Finland or Hungary. As soon as the far right rose to power their aim was to eliminate or drastically limit the right to strike, to decentralise collective bargaining to the company level and to question the role of trade unions as legitimate social partners.

Voters’ main concerns are core trade union demands:

We must not copy the discourse of the far as many mainstream parties have started to do but rather take the narrative into our own hands.

Voters’ main concerns are of socio-economic nature: the cost-of-living crisis, housing, access to services etc. Many choose to vote far right to protest the mainstream. The same is valid especially for young voters whose main concerns are reported to be peace, access to quality jobs and climate change. These concerns are at the core of our trade union struggle, and it is our duty to find the best way to communicate with our members and convince them to vote with progressive parties who support our demands.

Youth demands:

Our young members are ready to fight against the far right on the ground, equipped with the knowledge from the training and our Youth Demands

  • Good industrial jobs to attract young people to secure, well-paid and sustainable employment in industries (an immediate stop to deindustrialisation which prevents young people from taking up jobs in industries due to unclear future prospects);
  • Good apprenticeships with a retention guarantee (over the past years, companies in industries have been consistently reducing the number of apprenticeships offered, meanwhile they complain about a lack of skilled workers);
  • Support for young people who continue to be affected by the last three crises of the past 15 years: guaranteed access to social protection and quality and affordable housing everywhere, protection of purchasing power, a right to energy;
  • A plan to tackle the mental health crisis particularly hitting youth and caused primarily by insecure employment; low-quality, entry-level jobs; poor retention of apprentices, and limited access to social security, all leading to a precarious economic situation;
  • A better work-life balance and clear mechanisms to tackle all forms of discrimination and harassment at work.

Youth demands: