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Two international trade union federations are to unite next month. The move will further strengthen unions worldwide as they tackle the consequences of globalisation.
As of 1 November, the Universal Alliance of Diamond Workers (UADW) will integrate with the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM). The unification was approved in Prague yesterday by the ICEM Presidium.
Founded in 1905, the UADW has affiliates in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. These unions will now become members of the ICEM. They organise workers in diamond polishing and jewellery production. Both the UADW and the ICEM have membership in the mining of diamonds and gems.
A new ICEM section will be set up, covering diamonds, gems, ornaments and jewellery production. The ICEM officer responsible for these sectors will be Yamina Zebchine-De Laet, who up to now was the UADW's Assistant General Secretary.
"This is very good news for all the workers involved," said ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs in Prague today. "Among other things, it will mean that all diamond and gem workers, from extraction through polishing to jewellery production, will now be organised within the same global union. This increases our ability to organise and defend these workers, and it further strengthens our credentials as the negotiating partner for multinational employers in these industries."