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IndustriALL forms global communicators’ network

5 June, 2014Communicators from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in over 30 countries gathered in Italy this week to exchange ideas and determine how to better work and campaign together to improve workers' rights.

During the two-day forum, which took place at the ILO’s Turin training centre on 3 and 4 June, participants agreed to set up a global network of communicators to share information, stories, strategies and successes.

By tapping into each other’s experiences, skills and knowledge, participants came away with ideas on how to boost their own national campaigns as well as show global solidarity for the struggles of other IndustriALL unions.

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina provocatively asked participants why they forgot 99% of the world on their websites. In a world without borders, dominated by multinational companies, a violation of workers’ rights on one side of the globe is linked to workers on the other, he said.

This was starkly illustrated by Sokny Say, general secretary of Cambodian garment union FTUWKC, who reminded participants that one in ten items worn by the world’s population are made in her country. “In Cambodia the customer is king, and the kings are the brands,” she said.

She asserted that consumers in turn needed to exert their influence on the brands and that unions can play a key role in helping to gain global support for the struggle to improve the rights and wages of garment workers in Cambodia. IndustriALL’s intervention and campaigning was pivotal in achieving brand pressure on the government on the issue of trade union rights, living wages and freeing 23 imprisoned activists last month.

Among the affiliates who shared their own campaign and communication activities were representatives from Unifor in Canada, German industrial union IG BCE, Russian oil, gas and construction industry union ROGWU, Brazilian metalworkers confederation CNM/CUT, and the oilfield workers' union OWTU from Trinidad & Tobago.

The forum also gained insights into digital campaigning from Eric Lee of LabourStart and Walton Pantland from USi.

The interactive programme involved participants working in groups to discuss how to take IndustriALL campaigns forward and ways in which the campaigns could resonate with workers regionally.

Participants also gave their own ideas on how best to put the global network of communicators into place.