Svetlana GJURDZJANA (Udens Transporta Arodbiedribu Federacija), 30 years of age and the youngest member of the ETF Women’s Committee was interviewed by Cristina Tilling, ETF Political Secretary responsible for gender equality, about her impressions on the ETF Women’s Conference: “You can feel the power that unites us at this Congress!”
How did you get involved in the trade union movement?
I started my union work when I was working in the hotel industry. At that time, I already worked part time for the union movement and what impressed me the most was that the hotel was ran by men only, and there was a lot of bullying and harassment towards the female workers. It is then I started a union in my workplace, a small first step, but important for all my colleagues. In 2011 I had the chance to attend my first European activity: the ETF TRANSUNION gender seminar in Budapest. I was impressed: by the women, their trade union work, their knowledge and experience and the training package the ETF Women’s Committee was working on. It was my first meeting, and there and then I got involved in the ETF work.
A few weeks ago I took my chance to put myself forward as a candidate, on behalf of my trade union, the Latvian ports workers UTAF, for a position in the ETF Women’s Committee. And to my enthusiasm I was elected as Committee member by the Women’s Conference.
What do you, being a young female trade union activist, expect from the future?
I expect to learn more about women’s work conditions in other countries, about young women and their problems and hobbies. I will also share my experience with the others. I think women must have the confidence to go ahead. I did, and the women attending the ETF Women’s conference last Tuesday put their trust in me to represent them for the next 4 years. I feel that being part of the ETF is like breaking boundaries.l
It’s so inspiring to be part of the European trade union movement. Together we are strong. I feel I am part of something important – so many people sharing so many interests, it’s good to feel the power that unites us in this congress hall.