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Cook, Alice Hanson / Bavarian trade union youth

Factory assemblies,   p. 19 PDF (441.0 KB)

Page 19

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These regular meetings for all young workers in a given plant
are primarily educational, and are thought of by the union as
supplementing the inadequate social studies curriculum in the
vocational schools. They are usually addressed by a speaker, when
possible from outside the plant, who talks on some problem
related to these young people and their work, such as protective
youth legislation, trade union history and organization,
vocational information, health and hygiene, plant safety, current
events at home and abroad. The union usually plans the program
with the factory youth chairman. W7hen no outside speaker can be
found, the chairman often takes over the period himself.
Attendance is on company time and is compulsory. Most assemblies
last an hour but in some plants the union has succeeded in getting
two hours set aside for these meetings. Meetings where I spoke
were also attended by the masters and journeymen from the
apprentice shops and by some members of the works council.
All these adults seemed to have some responsibility for keeping
the meeting in order although the meeting was usually presided
over by the youth chairman. Some meetings start and end with
labor songs, led by one of the boys or the chairman.
The problem of holding these groups for two hours was
difficult for me and, I suspect, is a problem for any speaker.
Two meetings I attended were held in the late afternoon without
artificial light and by five o'clock when we adjourned, weswere
in almost total darkness. Shorter meetings sustained attention
and interest considerably better.
Notwithstanding these handicaps, discussion was at a very
high level although adults tended to ask more than their fair
share of questions, and apparently did not think of giving the
apprentices a special opportunity to speak. The degree and
quality of participation as between boys and girls differed
noticeably. Even in those groups where there were only girls,
questions did not come too readily and, in groups where boys
predominated, the girls simply didn't ask any questions. In
the club groups, however, where girls and boys meet on a much
freer basis than in the factories, girls participated far more

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