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Covid-19 union solidarity from Canada to Madagascar

22 July, 2020IndustriALL affiliates in Madagascar, Syndicalisme et Vie Sociétés (SVS) and Sendika Kristanina Malagasy (SEKRIMA) have partnered with the Canadian Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) to carry out joint campaigns to stop the spread of the coronavirus among vulnerable communities and assist in creating community resilience.

With Covid-19 affecting livelihoods of farming and fishing communities in Madagascar, IndustriALL Global Union affiliated unions are working together to respond. The SHF was created by IndustriALL affiliate, the United Steelworkers (USW), and is funded in Canada by individual union member contributions.

The objective of the project is to reach 600 households and benefit over 2,100 people from the farming and fishing communities as well as the informal sector around QMM operations in Fort Dauphin.

The SHF is funding the project with CAN$18,800, and SVS and SEKRIMA will conduct activities in the communities of Andrakaraka and Amposinahampoina. Activities will include Covid-19 awareness campaigns, distribution of masks, soap, and setting up of water points in every home, and providing food baskets for the most vulnerable.

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, says:

“Covid-19 is a global pandemic and this requires us to be responsive to local contexts. It is commendable that the SHF, SVS and SEKRIMA are joining forces for Covid-19 prevention in communities. This is a reminder that trade unions represent workers who live in communities, and that it is in their interests to ensure that the spread of the coronavirus is stopped.”

Ken Neumann, SHF president and Canadian National Director for the USW, says:

“Solidarity means that we, as trade unionists, have to be concerned with the needs of the vulnerable in the community, and to respond when we can. The pandemic threatens to further impoverish already poor communities in Fort Dauphin near Rio Tinto’s QMM mine.

"Our union members are employed by the same global mining company in Canada, and we are pleased to be able to support the community outreach of our partner unions.”

The World Bank estimates that poverty will increase by 23 per cent in Sub Saharan Africa because of Covid-19. Regulations to control the disease introduced by most countries including Madagascar have led to the contractions of economies by 30 per cent and increased the number of those living in poverty.

With Covid-19 cases picking up, it is feared that the region will be the worst affected because of inadequate and poorly equipped health care facilities that are operate with limited resources.