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Sub Saharan African regional meeting discusses how to assess union strength

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12 September, 2018Building strong unions requires checking the pulse of the union in governance, union structures, operational policies, sound administration, an active membership, and the payment of union dues.

This is the information that will be collected and evaluated using the organizational assessment tool that is being developed by the IndustriALL Global Union Sub Saharan African region for use in six countries that are part of the Union Building Project. The user-friendly tool is already in use in other countries.

At a meeting in Johannesburg 11-12 September, attended by project coordinators from Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda, and with support from Union to Union, it was agreed that union organizational assessments were key to identifying capacity gaps that the union needed to pay attention to.

This would make it easier to develop policies and programmes to strengthen the union. Examples of policies to be included are finance, human resources, gender, media and communication, youth, and anti-corruption. Improving record keeping would also give the union important information on the composition of its membership, the sectors they are from, their gender, age, and whether the dues they pay to the union are up to date. Such information is key when capacity development programmes are being planned.

This year the Union building project is focusing on strengthening union structures, operating systems, procedures and strengthening organizing and recruitment. This includes bringing the union leadership together, setting up women and youth committees, facilitating and providing technical support to affiliates to develop gender, youth, finance, and health and safety policies. For instance, youth in trade union structures’ programmes have been set up in Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Says Fons Vannieuwenhuyse, IndustriALL director for projects:

The Sub Saharan Africa region has developed an organizational assessment tool that will be useful to all. As this is where theory may not always meet the practice, however, as a simple question to one person is not necessarily easy for the next, there is still a lot of important work to do. The tool is work in progress.