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Electricity unions in Middle East and North Africa create network

11 May, 2017Union leaders from Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan and Turkey have established a union network for the electricity sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the electricity sector conference held on 4-5 May 2017 in Ankara, Turkey.

The network aims to share knowledge and experience, provide trade union solidarity, and improve communications among electricity workers in the region.

The meeting was hosted and organized by IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate TES-İŞ, and chaired by its president, Mustafa Şahin, who said:

“I would like to express my great pleasure and honour to be able to lay the foundations of the MENA region electricity union network in Ankara. Enhancing global and regional solidarity is vital to workers in electricity sector. TES-İŞ will continue to advance this goal at different levels.” 

The meeting was attended by representatives of trade unions in the MENA region, as well as IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

Participants addressed the problems facing workers in the region, such as subcontracting and the outsourcing of some departments of companies, leading to an increase in precarious work.

Privatization of public companies results in a decrease of workers’ rights, reduction in wages, deteriorating of working conditions and a loss of jobs.

Electricity workers make great sacrifices to deliver energy to people in remote and mountainous areas. Occupational health and safety is extremely important and these workers should be able to go to work with confidence.

Abdelmajid Matoual from FNTE/UMT said:

“In Morocco privatization is a significant challenge for electricity workers. Government is working to deregulate the market and opening doors to privatize public companies. It’s very important to share experience in order to be prepared for future changes.”

In Iraq, corruption is one of the biggest problems, according to Hashmeya Alsaadawe, president of the General Union of Electricity Workers and Technicians in Basra:

“The government has spent plenty of money and now they know that they have failed and they want to privatize as quickly as possible. It will have consequences for the workers, but even privatizing companies will not stop corruption.”

The meeting also received a report about labour relations in the private sector. The human resources manager of Toroslar Region of EnerjiSA, a joint venture of German-based E.ON and Turkish holding company Sabanci Group, explained the continuing relationship with the TES-İŞ union in the context of industrial relations and bilateral dialogue between employer and employees in the distribution sector. The HR manager explained that in the transfer phase, workers scattered in sub-contracting companies are taken into direct employment at Enerji-SA as a result of the work carried out with the union.

IndustriALL energy director Diana Junquera Curiel said:

“We have created an important new union network. Now we have to work hard to build a solid and fruitful working group, able to support all the electricity unions in the region and develop international solidarity.”

The delegation visited two companies: a distribution centre from the private Enerji-SA company (Centre of SCADA System) which distributes electricity in three regions in Turkey, and the TEİAŞ Transformer public company, and its maintenance and repair centres.