The early YCW and its enquiries

Well, here is an amazing document compiled in 1951 by Marguerite Fiévez for a research paper she wrote for her social work degree!

It’s a list of all the enquiry campaigns organised by the Belgian JOC and JOCF (YCW and Girls YCWs) from 1924 until 1950.

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And here they are:


  • General enquiry on adolescent employees;


  • Enquiry on personal hygiene;


  • Enquiry on preparation for work;


  • Enquiry on union membership;


  • Enquiry on the working lives of young employees;


  • Enquiry into the labour law regarding young employees;
  • Enquiry on necessary collaborations;
  • Enquiry on safety, health and self-esteem;


  • Enquiry into paid leave;
  • Enquiry on hygiene at work;
  • Enquiry on family duties;
  • Enquiry on intellectual education;
  • Enquiry on job finding;
  • Enquiry on reading by young workers starting work;
  • Enquiry on religious knowledge;
  • Enquiry on vocational education;
  • Enquiry on the influence of workplaces on young workers;
  • Enquiry on all young employees and their workplaces;


  • Enquiry on the movements of young workers;
  • Enquiry on young workers’ free time;


  • Inquiry into the education and training of young workers;
  • Enquiry into the strike and the crisis;


  • Enquiry into what the YCW has done for young workers;
  • Enquiry on young workers who are victims of the crisis;
  • Enquiry on the jobs of young workers in the neighbourhood;


  • Enquiry on young workers’ wages;
  • Enquiry on trade unions;
  • Enquiry on young workers and the Eucharist;
  • Enquiry on young workers and trade unionism;
  • Enquiry on the transformation of workplaces;
  • Enquiry on young workers’ health;


  • Enquiry into the situation of young unemployed people;
  • Enquiry into the moral life of young workers in the workplace;
  • Enquiry into the moral life of young workers on the move;


  • Enquiry on young workers’ wages;
  • Enquiry on professional work;


  • Enquiry into the situation of workplaces;
  • Enquiry on the health of young workers and their families;


  • Enquiry into the physical education and leisure activities of young workers;


  • Enquiry into the meaning of Sunday and Sunday rest;


  • Enquiry into Sunday and the young worker’s family;
  • Enquiry on paid leave;


  • Enquiry of young evacuated (refugee) workers;


  • Enquiry on clothing and heating;
  • Enquiry on the family situation of young workers;
  • Enquiry on young workers’ diet;


  • Enquiry on young workers’ lifestyle;


  • Enquiry on the attitude of young workers towards young female workers;
  • Enquiry on the working conditions of young workers;


  • Enquiry on the health of young workers in their neighborhood;


  • Enquiry into the living conditions of sick young workers;
  • Referendum enquiry on the health of young people at work;


  • Discovery of young workers in the neighborhood;
  • Enquiry on savings and loans for marriage;
  • Enquiry on (young workers’) reading;


  • Enquiry into local cinemas;
  • Enquiry on young people’s preparation for work;
  • Enquiry on the summer leisure activities of young workers;


  • Enquiry on young unemployed people.

This makes a total of 59 enquiries over 26 years or so, covering nearly every imaginable aspect of the lives of young workers, ranging from food and health to working conditions and unemployment, marriage, family, leisure, education – and not forgetting the religious development of young workers.

Taken together they offer an amazing insight into the work of the early YCW and its concern for what we might today refer to as “integral human development.”


Now what else is striking about this list?

First of all, I’m struck by the sheer number of enquiries the movement carried out.

Imagine the coordination and work necessary to prepare, implement and evaluate all these enquiries at a local and national level.

Secondly, and perhaps even more striking is the fact that each and every one of these enquiries has a laser-like focus on the lives of young workers.

Not on general social issues but on the intimate realities of the every day life of the millions of young workers the YCW was trying to reach.

Here we see the real meaning of the see-judge-act in the jocist sense: young workers observing the realities in which they live, evaluating them in the light of the Gospel, and taking action at both a personal and collective level.

Just another example of how much we can still learn from studying the early YCW, Cardijn’s YCW!

Stefan Gigacz


Marguerite Fiévez, Y-a-t-il un problème de la jeunesse travailleuse dans le monde? Comment la JOC veut-elle le résoudre? (Is there a young worker problem in the world? How does the YCW propose to solve it?) Ecole catholique de service sociale, Bruxelles, Session 1950. (Archives Marguerite Fiévez, §11, CARHOP)