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Women workers in Zambia and Tanzania pledge to fight violence

08.12.2017

“We will take the Pledge!” cheered young women workers during the Women Organizers’ exchange workshop in Kitwe, Zambia last week.

All IndustriALL affiliates in Zambia and in Tanzania committed to discuss internally the IndustriALL Pledge on violence and harassment against women and to adopt it formally. The pledge commits the union to a policy of zero tolerance with the slogan “No to violence. Not in our workplace. Not in our union”.

The Womens’ Organizers exchange workshops were part of the Organizing project activities held in Dar es Salaam Tanzania in July and in Kitwe between 27 November and 1 December, which concluded with the project evaluation and the Zambia National Council Meeting.

After the first exchange workshop held in Dar es Salaam in July, three Tanzanian women leaders from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates the Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO) and the Tanzania Mines, Energy, Construction and Allied Workers Union travelled to Zambia to follow up sharing strategies and experiences in organizing and building women’s representation in our unions.

Margaret Ndagile of TUICO said,

“There are many challenges because we represent many very different sectors such as mining, industrial and energy sectors and we need to study how to bring in more women and workers from all these sectors.”

The twenty-five young women workers from the mining, metal, pharmaceutical and plastic sectors in Zambia expressed the difficulties they face as unionists in their workplaces and in their unions. Their priorities which are not taken into account when their unions make collective bargaining, and the same stereotypical explanations are always given by their unions for the lack of representation of women.

“Women pay equal subscriptions to the unions, but they do not have equal voices in decision making – why?” they asked.  The group of participants from each union caucused and drew up their action plans to carry out in their workplaces and take to their leadership.

“We have learned a lot through this exchange with Tanzanian trade unionists especially when it comes to young workers, they are so engaged in union activities and this is very inspiring” said Yuyi Sikananu, union organizer from NUBEGW Zambia

The final evaluation meeting of the last years of the organizing project followed with participation of Magnus Palmgren from IF Metall- Sweden, who commended the number of young women participating in the meetings and who explained why IF Metall has publicly declared itself a “feminist union”.

The union leadership from the Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia, the National Union of Commercial & Industrial Workers and the National Union of Building, Energy & General Workers claimed ownership of the project. They highlighted the advances gained in learning to map out workplaces to target and recruit around 25,000 new members since 2014 by forming permanent organizing teams.

The implementation of the “golden rules” of non-competition and cooperation among affiliates has built concrete unity and solidarity, which lead our affiliates to gain leadership positions in the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions.

Finally, the Zambia National Council adopted the 40 per cent representation of women, a quarterly calendar of meetings and coordination structure and proposed to table the Pledge against violence during the first meeting of the Council in 2018.