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Electrical sector in Latin America builds unity and strength

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24 July, 2017Union representatives from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador shared two days of intensive discussions on the situation in the electrical sector in the region, and agreed to work to achieve unity and strength.

The third meeting of the regional network of the electrical sector in Latin America began in San Salvador by hearing the anthem of the Electrical Industry Union of El Salvador (SIES), affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union.

“We are greatly honoured that it was decided to hold this event here, since it enables us to exchange experiences with colleagues from other countries.  There are many similarities in the problems we confront as workers in the sector.  For example, in the spread of outsourcing,” said SIES general secretary Joselito Costa. 

Over the two days, the participants discussed the situation of the sector in each country of the region, how to confront precarious employment and help those suffering from its effects, as well as future prospects for the sector based on the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.

The meeting was attended by the minister of labour of El Salvador, Sandra Guevara, who praised the initiative and expressed her support for the unity of the labour movement:

“I encourage you to work together to strengthen union organization and ensure that the work you do will lead to progress.  Today we must be more united than ever, both at the country level in Latin America and at the global level,” said the minister. 

Aside from discussing the situation in the various countries of the region, IndustriALL energy director Diana Junquera addressed the global situation of the sector and of the labour movement.  Other topics affecting workers throughout the world were also discussed, such as alternative energies, change in the energy matrix and technological advances.

“One of the main subjects discussed was the loss of jobs due to technology and Industry 4.0.  This sector is particularly affected.  For example, the use of smart meters to monitor energy consumption has led to a considerable loss of jobs,” Junquera explained.

Later there was a very interesting presentation by the economic and political advisor of SIES, Francisco Martinez, on the future of energy, employment and the labour movement.  Based on data from various reports, he described what the electrical sector would be like in 2040. He noted, for example, that total global demand for energy will increase by 30%, and that most of it will be consumed in developing countries.  In addition, he discussed climate change and its impact on the electrical sector. 

The participants agreed to strengthen the unity of the labour movement in the context of globalization.  To that end they would establish unified positions of solidarity and support at the regional and global levels.  They would also seek to include more unions in the electrical sector in various countries in the Latin American network, with a view to building a solid network with a common position on the situation of the sector in the region.

“Now more than ever, our unions must be united for the struggle ahead.  We must strengthen the ties among brothers in the region, because we are all affected by the same disease of neo-liberalism.  Thanks to all, the struggle continues.”

The meeting was concluded by IndustriALL Global Union executive committee vice-chair, Raúl Enrique Mathiu, who was also present at the meeting.