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Participants from the Latin America Pulp and Paper Network on 25-26 October in São Paulo, Brazil.

Pulp and paper sector makes plans to strengthen unions in Latin America

02.11.2017

More than 40 workers from the region’s pulp and paper sector met on 25-26 October in São Paulo, Brazil, to draft an action plan to strengthen trade unions in the sector.

Over two days, trade union leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay shared information and experiences about the economic situation and its effects on workers at the global, regional and national levels, to help them understand the various needs and organize support for the struggles that are taking place in the region.

"Our work in IndustriALL’s Latin America pulp and paper trade union network consists of building unity and, in particular, supporting our smaller affiliates in Peru and Colombia. With the help of our Belgian paper sector affiliate, we are also going to connect the network with other regional structures in South East Asia. IndustriALL’s tens of thousands of paper sector workers in Brazil will play an increasingly important role in sector activities in the future," explained Tom Grinter, IndustriALL’s research and industry officer.

The meeting discussed the behaviour of multinational companies, such as CMPC and Arauco, which are key companies in Latin America’s pulp and paper sector. IndustriALL wants to build trade union power and wants the companies to recognize the union networks.

The meeting coincided with the IndustriALL World Conference on Industry 4.0 on 26-27 October in Geneva, Switzerland and focused its discussion on how to deal with the challenges arising from technological change in the sector.

The meeting also highlighted the importance of protecting precarious workers in supply chains and participants agreed to work together to combat the attacks on workers’ rights contained in Brazil’s labour reform. 

Lucineide Varjão, president of the National Confederation of Chemical Sector Unions (CNQ/CUT, affiliated to IndustriALL) and co-president of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee and other women participants raised the issue of gender in the workplace and in the sector’s leadership. They concluded the discussion with guidelines on how to increase women’s participation in the sector’s unions.

Finally, the trade union leaders drafted a regional action plan. They agreed to implement the plan in their country but recognized that they face a lot of challenges in the fight to improve workers’ organization in the sector in the region. In the year ahead, they will try to increase union membership and the level of union organization in the sector in national unions affiliated to IndustriALL.

Marino Vani, IndustriALL’s Regional Officer, attended the meeting and said:

“It was an excellent meeting. We would like to thank our affiliates in Brazil, FEQUIMFAR/FS and CNQ/CUT, for all their support and their efforts to organize the activity. We achieved the seminar’s objectives, namely to take on commitments and draft an action plan to strengthen and empower the sector’s workers and their unions in the region”