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Caribbean unions continue to strengthen outreach and cooperation in the region

21 November, 2018Condemnation of the attacks on trade union rights and the crisis in the oil and steel industries in the Caribbean were high on the agenda of IndustriALL Global Union’s Caribbean meeting held in Paramaribo in Suriname on 12-13 November.

The loss of industrial capacity in oil and steel was a major cause for concern. The closures of Petrotrin and ArcelorMittal in Trinidad and Tobago, Alcoa in Suriname and temporary shut down of PDVSA in Curacao have dealt a major blow to the economies of the countries concerned, creating massive direct and indirect job losses affecting workers, their families and their communities.

“In Trinidad and Tobago, for instance, OWTU is trying to stop the government from closing Petrotrin and ceding soverignty over key natural resources to private interests. This same government would have opted to sell of the former ArcelorMittal steel plant for scrap metal if it wasn’t for SWUTT’s insistence on the importance of revitalizing the steel industry.  And because they are standing up for the interests of the people, unions are coming under brutal attack”.

IndustriALL Global Union supports unions in the region who are coming under attack as a result of their efforts to protect jobs and prevent a return to a ‘plantation economy’.

said IndustriALL´s regional officer, Laura Carter.

The meeting adopted statements on Alcoa and Petrotrin, and agreed to make approaches to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour on the issue of sustainble industrial policy. Delegates also agreed that their respective unions should take the lead in promoting debate and action on industry 4.0 in the Caribbean region, where there is little awareness of the issue on the part of governments.

The meeting examined the successes and challenges in the countries of the region and discussed the future of work in an era of global supply chains, digital disruption and energy transition. Participants also agreed to continue to strengthen outreach and cooperation with unions in other countries in the Caribbean region.

Delegates discussed how to build union power through organizing and common strategies, and agreed to aim for greater alignment with IndustriALL’s strategies and actions. Unions will take action on November 25 as part of IndustriALL´s campaign against gender violence

The meeting brought together 22 delegates from eight unions in Barbados, Curacao, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, and ended with a visit to the Staatsolie refinery.