Organised by transitions: the self-organisation of next-generation welfare professionals in Slovenia

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  • 1 University of Ljubljana, , Slovenia
  • | 2 Cornell University, , USA
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Much is known about innovative union strategies to organise young workers, but little is known about how and why they self-organise outside of unions. Based on field research in Slovenia, we examine ‘next-generation welfare professionals’, a diverse group of students, unemployed graduates and precarious workers attempting to enter state-regulated, and relatively well unionised education and social protection professions. We argue that their self-organisation is a direct consequence of their precarious education-to-work transitions and consequent disembeddedness from the workplace and professional community. Their grievances stem from a mismatch between strict professional entry requirements and scarce paid internships, which lead to long unemployment spells, unsupportive active labour market schemes, and a fear of social exclusion. Their initial tactic was to establish communities from which a collective sense of injustices and self-organising emerged and they targeted policymakers with demands for sustainable government funded internships. Although their relations with established trade unions are not close, they do receive organisational support from the Trade Union Youth Plus that organises students, the unemployed and precarious graduates stuck in a transitional stage of ‘waithood’. Our findings show the need for unions to become more present within transitional zones that, are shaped by state policies.

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  • 1 University of Ljubljana, , Slovenia
  • | 2 Cornell University, , USA

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