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Building union power through an energy, mining and base metals ‘macro sector’ in Latin America

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25 September, 2018IndustriALL affiliates from the energy, mining and base metals sectors came together as a macro sector to discuss strategies for increasing their union power and building stronger union structures in a globalized world in constant flux.

 More than 45 trade union leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean attended the gathering, held from 12 to 14 September in Bogota, Colombia. It was the first meeting of the regional macro sector that brings together trade unions in IndustriALL's energy, mining and base metals sectors.

The meeting was also attended by professor Monica Bruckmann, a researcher with the UNESCO-UNU Chair/Network on Global Economics and Sustainable Development, who took stock of the geopolitical climate within the energy, mining and base metals macro sector in Latin America.

Drawing from her analysis, the union leaders then discussed the current situation and identified challenges and the strategies needed to address them. Each sector drew up a 2019 action plan in which they set out priorities, with the aims of coordinating their fight, delivering results and making progress towards the objectives of the IndustriALL Global Union Action Plan.

The union leaders also highlighted the importance of coordinating efforts across sectors. By responding as a macro sector, they will be able to better meet the challenges raised by Industry 4.0, sustainable development and the energy transition. The leaders also agreed to move forward with the Global Framework Agreements, to strengthen employment by building global union networks and to promote international campaigns against multinationals that seek to weaken labour relations.

The unions’ first step as a macro sector was to issue three letters in support of workers in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago who are facing problems with their respective governments and whose rights are being undermined.

“Creating macro sectors within IndustriALL was one of the policies that came out of our most recent congress and is championed by our general secretary, Valter Sanches,” said IndustriALL's regional secretary, Marino Vani.

“Applying this approach in Latin America and the Caribbean has allowed the regional office to foster closer ties with its affiliates, and it has helped to strengthen cooperation between the three sectors and to enhance their power. Given that many unions represent more than one sector, we have also been able to get more unions involved in more meetings.”

“We all face the same problems, so it makes sense for us to coordinate our agendas, our campaigns and our efforts. And ultimately, as a macro sector, we will increase our union power and make greater progress.”

The meeting was held as part of IndustriALL Global Union's regional project, which is funded by Union to Union, with support from affiliates IF Metall, Unionen and Pappers.