The regional workshop, held from 11 to 13 September with funding from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), brought together leaders of affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union representing workers in the textile, garment, leather and footwear sectors in Brazil, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay.
The participants discussed ways of holding multinationals accountable for working conditions in their supply chains, including making use of global framework agreements and other initiatives to promote unionization.
They gained practical experience of using online research to identify pressure points, and discussed techniques for organizing in an often hostile industry, including creating a culture of organizing, planning and targeting, grassroots organizing, using workplace issues as the lifeblood of a campaign and dealing with anti-union employers. They also reviewed proactive mechanisms aimed at establishing mature industrial relations, including right to organize ‘guarantees’ and access agreements.
In addition to the practical aspects of organizing, the participants engaged in a political debate on the need to ensure effective inter-union coordination and to adopt structures for growth.
In a detailed case study, the participants applied what they had learned to devise effective campaigns aimed at empowering workers to stand up for their rights and supporting them through coordinated global campaigns.
The workshop also explored the issue of precarious work, and participants were asked to formulate concrete commitments to bring the campaign to life in their respective countries on and around the World Day for Decent Work on October 7.
The trade unionists decried the recent spate of deadly fires in shoe and footwear factories in Pakistan and Russia and vowed to support pressure for proper compensation and for measures to make the industry safe.
The workshop was conducted by Programmes Officer Laura Carter and attended by Assistant General Secretary Fernando Lopes who provided information on the policies and perspectives of IndustriALL.