An Interview with Brenda, a Guatemalan YCW Activist Who Went to the ILO

‘We are all workers, we all have the right to organize into a union’

What is your role in your national movement?

I am an activist in the Guatemala YCW coordination team. We are a small team of activists coordinating the activities of the groups.

What are the main activities of the Guatemala YCW presently?

Our priorities are the personal actions carried out at our workplaces. In addition, we are working at extending the movement. We are now in an investigation and initiation process in another two cities and we are following up new base groups which have been set up in the metropolitan area of Guatemala City (the capital).

What is your personal experience of action?

I have almost always worked for the government. There is a problem of flexibilization there. They give work contracts that enable them to reduce the workers’ rights. In my last job in a human rights institution, most workers did not have access to established labor rights. It was a human rights institution, so there was a huge contradiction there!

The election year was approaching and in Guatemala, a change of government usually leads to a change of the whole personnel in public institutions. We were therefore faced with the threat of dismissal and we knew that a military government might return to power. We finally decided to form a trade union with 3 objectives.

Temporary Work in Germany: A Testimony from Anne, 24 years old

“I Have No Direct Contract and My Life is Insecure!”


After finishing high school, I studied Business Administration and finished with a Bachelor’s degree. I searched for a job for about half a year and every time my applications were rejected, the reason was: "You have no working experience" or "We are primarily looking for people with more work experience" ... Even in positions that were advertised for new entrants they kept saying, " We have found someone with more experience ".

Long story short, I got a job from a temporary work agency. I am working in the purchasing department of a big company which isn’t far away from home. But this job doesn’t require academic studies. My salary corresponds approximately to that of the people directly hired by the company for the same position, but those people are working together with a Buyer while I am working alone.

In the company I feel warmly welcomed – most colleagues do not even know that I am employed through a temporary work agency. I get the same discounts as the employees hired directly by the company – for example a discount in the canteen. I really like the work and the colleagues.

International Domestic Workers’ Day: A Testimony from Pakistan

I am Fatima Hussain from Pakistan. I am 24 years old. I live in Lahore. I applied for many jobs in different factories but in vain. In our society, it doesn’t look good for a girl to have a job, people don’t like women workers.

I ended up deciding to work as a domestic worker because it is easier to get a job in this sector. But domestic workers are not paid well. They are paid PKR 1,500 per home (US$ 15). I was very disappointed by the low pay and the volume of extra work. I had to fulfill tasks that were not related to my job.

One day I met the YCW – that was a very beautiful day. In a meeting, I shared my experience as a domestic worker and the extra work.

We as YCW group wrote a letter to the Labor Council and requested it to increase my wage and make restrictions for no extra work for domestic workers. After a month, the management of the housing society where I work received a letter from the Labor Council saying that domestic workers had to be paid PKR 2,000 per home (US$ 20) instead of 1,500 and could not be given extra work. Now I earn PKR 8,000 for 4 homes. Although it is not enough to meet my daily needs, I am very happy and I attend the YCW meetings on a regular basis, hoping that I can do something more to change my life and that of other workers.