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Canadian Affiliate’s Humanity Fund Teams with ICEM on Nigerian HIV/AIDS Awareness Efforts

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30 June, 2008

The ICEM is proud to play a role in the Communications, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) Union’s second effort to stem the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Nigeria. Through the Canadian union’s Humanity Fund, CEP is contributing half of a C$20,000 budget to train HIV/AIDS counsellors within ICEM’s two oil and gas union affiliates, NUPENG and PENGASSAN.

The project will extend ICEM’s work in Nigeria in training peer counsellors to provide AIDS awareness, education and testing for workers and their families. The CEP’s fund is also partner with the Canadian Labour Congress’s Labour International Development Programme, on another Nigerian HIV/AIDS project. That project also has financial support from the federal Canadian International Development Agency.

CEP’s Humanity Fund is unique in that funding comes through negotiated agreements with Canadian employers. Local unions negotiate either an employer contribution of C$0.01-per-hour; C$0.02-per-hour, which includes an employee’s matching contribution; or the CEP local branch union can vote to make the contribution. To date, some 100 CEP locals, numbering 30,000 workers, have successfully negotiated payments into the Humanity Fund with employers.

In 2007, contributions to the Humanity Fund increased by 30%.

At the union’s 2004 National Convention, delegates pledged to raise C$500,000 to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS through the Humanity Fund. The CEP currently is also funding a project in partnership with the Fédération des Travailleurs de Québec on HIV/AIDS awareness with an oil workers’ union in Chad.

In 2008, the fund’s directors have approved humanitarian aid for victims of the earthquake in China, funded a programme for the Canadian Friends of Burma, and lent support to workers’ and women’s rights programmes in the garment industries of Mexican, Central America, and Asia. The Humanity Fund also spends 15% each year on domestic projects.

CEP heralds the fund as not charity, but rather solidarity in “building partnerships with workers’, community, and women’s organisations in developing countries.