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Building organizing power in South East Asia

19 September, 202320 organizers met in Bangkok, Thailand to complete their three-year Organizers’ Development Programme (ODP), a joint training developed by IndustriALL and IG Metall focusing on strategic organizing, methods and campaigns. The aim is to provide organizers with skills and knowledge to develop organizing strategies, strategic planning and campaigning.

The programme was developed in response to the need to build stronger unions in the region and to organize throughout the global supply chain. Over the three years, ODP participants have been trained on strategic organizing campaigns, access to potential activists and union members, union-busting, online organizing tools, building a strong base, and different aspects to help unions build power for organizing.

“As an organizer for 20 years, ODP has reminded me to do mapping, strategic planning and analysis of each stage, as well as of our own resources,”

said Paitoon Bangrong, CILT, Thailand.

The programme started in 2021, focusing on multinational companies and their supply chains to identify how trade unions can tackle them by exploring the power resources approach. Following the first year, participants were asked to start working on their organizing targets with the acquired knowledge.

Their individual strategic organizing campaigns and progress were monitored and evaluated by the project. Many participants successfully formed a union at their targeted companies.

“We greatly appreciate our participation in the ODP. We learned to do an effective organizing campaign, as well as all the elements needed for a stable and strong union,”

said Elvira Castro Panes, PIGLAS, Philippines.

Many participants said that they had learned that listening to a worker rather than explaining what the union stands may prove more effective. Many started identifying organic leaders for the first time, realizing that the union’s power comes from the members.

“From personal communications to structural management, the mix of micro and macro strategies introduced in the programme was very tangible and comprehensive. This programme is definitely optimal in contributing to the development of organizer’s skills,”

said Hiromitsu Takagi, JCM, Japan.

The last workshop, co-funded by FES Thailand, was held on 21-25 August. It provided further techniques and knowledge on strategic organizing and included a session on human rights due diligence. Participants highlighted that the strategic thinking and different skills and knowledge acquired through the ODP has helped them to reach better working conditions for union members.

“Without ODP we can form a union, with ODP we now know how to gain more power and win our demands,”

said Sifa Nurul Azmi, FARKES, Indonesia.