Some twenty union leaders from the MENA region, together with affiliates from Europe, attended the IndustriALL Middle East and North Africa Textile, Garment and Leather Sector Unions' Regional Network Meeting in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 April.
The participants discussed development of an organizing agenda for the sector, and how to improve strategic cooperation within the region, as well as with unions from other regions. The meeting started with recapping the previous meeting in Morocco in June 2015 setting stage for the discussions.
In a general assessment of the situation in the region, the participants noted the current difficult political and economic environment – political crisis in most countries, undercutting of labour laws, no or low adherence to international standards and the ease of international companies and brands of disengaging from a country with ease abound.
As such, though pressure from political forces, suppliers, and international brands, continue to make organizing new union members difficult. In some cases within the region, there has been strong union growth and improved collaboration among active trade unions.
Intense input and discussions around the Global Framework Agreement (GFA) between Spanish Inditex, biggest garment retailer in the world, and IndustriALL over organizing in supply chains as part of its implementation. The participants exchanged information and strategies on the ongoing progress of organizing in Inditex, especially in Tunisia. The meeting also included an introduction to an ongoing industry mapping and strategy options for union growth in MENA region conducted by IndustriALL.
Following intensive discussions, the participants with a strong women's representation laid out plans of action for organizing more members, especially in supplier factories producing for international companies.
Our intensive work in the textile, garment and leather sectors in MENA region continues” said Monika Kemperle, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “The plan of action drawn up at the Beirut meeting perfectly fits to the strategic goals of our global union.