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Organizing helps us reach our key goals

19 October, 2015Building union power through organizing and growth is the first key goal of IndustriALL Global Union. But it also helps us reach our other goals on living wages, limits on precarious work, and healthier and safer workplaces.

In these months IndustriALL prepares its strategic plans, activities and budget for 2016. Industry sector chairs and Executive Committee members are consulted, so that our decision making body can take final decisions when it meets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in December.

Checking the plans, I am glad to see how the idea of organizing as a part of just about everything we do is going through.

Building global union power through organizing can help us to achieve our other goals such as defend union rights against violations, achieve a living wage for all workers in our industries, limit precarious work through better laws and collective agreements, and guarantee healthier and safer workplaces.

Organizing means recruiting new members, retaining existing ones and increasing the number of active members who are more likely to take action when needed. We want to build unions that are able to formulate their demands on wages and collective bargaining, and mobilize their members to reach their goals.

Today, only 7 per cent of the world’s workforce is organized in free and independent unions. And yet, IndustriALL has 600 affiliates in 140 countries. It is way too many. Divided we remain weak. More unity is better for our workers – and it is possible if union leaders show true leadership.

Therefore our union building programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America focus on organizing and building unity and joint action among our affiliated unions. We especially focus on organizing precarious workers, women and youth.

In 2014, IndustriALL’s programs directly helped our unions organize 100.000 new members. But even more importantly, they helped to reinforce an organizing culture within the unions. This contributed to hundreds of thousands of new members through unions’ own programs.

Some of our global union networks in major multinational companies have already mobilized solidarity support during organizing drives in non-union operations. More concrete action through mapping and targeting will be on the agenda.

IndustriALL has negotiated 46 global framework agreements with big corporations, putting in place a high level of labour standards for already more than 10 million workers. Now we want to use the GFAs in a more systematic way to create opportunities for affiliates to organize at the companies and their suppliers.

In the textile and garments sector, our biggest sector with 60 million workers but low union density, IndustriALL works with brands to ensure that the organizing rights of workers at supplier factories where brands buy their garments are respected. This will be a major focus for the years to come with brands such as the ACT group, where the key objective is to reach living wages through industry level collective bargaining and freedom of association.

Organizing is the base of our legitimacy as the voice of the working people. It is the job of all of us to make that voice loud and clear.

Jyrki Raina

General Secretary