The aim was to create a ‘macro sector’ that brings together workers from manufacturing industries across the region.
Fifty trade union leaders from the ‘macro sector’ of manufacturing industries across Latin American and the Caribbean met for the first time from 13 to 15 August in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Their aim was to discuss the future world of work and come up with joint initiatives.
As IndustriALL's regional secretary, Marino Vani, put it:
“The aim was to create a ‘macro sector’ for manufacturing workers from across the region. We also looked at developments in manufacturing industries and discussed strategies and initiatives to further empower trade unions in the region. In addition, IndustriALL Global Union was there to encourage its affiliates to become more actively involved in implementing the global action plan.”
One of the main topics under discussion was the challenges raised by the restructuring of the economy and the emergence of industry 4.0. Participants exchanged ideas on what steps the trade-union movement can take to address these changes and together come up with solutions.
Among the changes discussed were those affecting the global production system, and especially global supply chains across Latin America and the Caribbean. Particular attention was paid to how equal opportunities could be created for young people, women and indigenous populations in the future world of work.
After analysing the challenges ahead, participants shifted their focus to possible strategies for protecting workers at multinational companies. Such strategies include entering into global framework agreements, organizing trade-union networks for multinational companies in the macro-manufacturing sector in Latin America, and running campaigns to prevent precarious work from becoming more prevalent along value chains.
"Multinationals have a lot of power: they have shareholders, money, and political influence. But if we are united and prepared to fight, we can make sure we have more power than they do. Working together will make us smarter and ensure that we adopt the right strategies to tackle the challenges ahead,"
said Tom Grinter, sectors director at IndustriALL.
Edson Dias Bicalho, general secretary of the trade union FEQUIMFAR and member of IndustriALL's executive committee, agreed with Grinter and added:
“Multinationals and neoliberal governments are going after the working class – the labour reforms in Brazils are proof of that. The only way to save the working class is to be united in our struggle and in our actions.”
Finally, Lucineide Varjão, president of CNQ/CUT and regional co-chair of IndustriALL, concluded by saying:
“This IndustriALL meeting has generated many fruitful discussions. We have agreed on strategies to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. These strategies include strengthening unionization, addressing the issue of precarious work and empowering trade unions in today's increasingly globalized world. We are coming out of this much stronger and better prepared for the struggle ahead.”
IndustriALL's macro sector comprises the following manufacturing industries: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, rubber, plastics, glass, machinery, raw materials, capital goods, domestic appliances, and industrial and environmental services.