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North African aerospace unions come together to build power

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3 February, 2017The first Middle East and North Africa regional aerospace conference was held in Casablanca, Morocco, on 28-29 November 2016.

The meeting was the first to bring together aerospace sector trade union representatives from the region, and follows a number of national meetings held in Tunisia and Morocco in late 2015 and 2016.
The meeting was attended by 35 delegates from the Moroccan trade union centre Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT), Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CDT), the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate from Morocco Syndicat National des Travailleurs des Industries Métallurgiques, Mécaniques, Electriques et Electroniques (SNTIMMEE-CDT), and Tunisian affiliate Fédération Générale de la Métallurgie et de l'Electronique (FGME-UGTT).

The aerospace sector in the Maghreb is booming. Foreign companies, many of them French-owned, have opened new production facilities in Morocco and Tunisia, taking advantage of the region’s proximity to global supply chains.
The delegates at the meeting represent workers at 14 aerospace companies, including Bombardier, Stelia, Ratier-Figeac, ASM Aero, Mecaprotec Aéro, Eurocast, Daher, UTC Aerospace and Zodiac.
The growth of the sector means there are potentially thousands of new members who can be drawn into the trade union movement. Following the expansion of the sector, and working with IndustriALL, unions have taken action to build power.  In Morocco, the UMT is currently working on creating a metal union to include aerospace workers, and the CDT established a unified union office for aerospace workers. Similarly, Tunisian metal union FGME-UGTT has created a section for the sector.
The meeting adopted an action plan based on the five strategic objectives endorsed by the IndustriALL Congress in Rio de Janeiro in October 2016.
The action plan includes commitments to

  • Build unions across the sector in the region
  • Promote union organizing in the sector especially in the key regions
  • Push back against anti-union policies
  • Demand the extension of global framework agreements to production facilities in the region, and to
  • Fight for contract workers to be made permanent.

A major priority will be working together across the sector at national level, and creating company networks at regional level.
IndustriALL aerospace director Brian Kohler said:
“The discussions at this meeting were very intense, and of a high quality. We have achieved better dialogue and communications between unions in the region.
The action plan will help us to build a strong union presence in this growing sector, and potentially recruit thousands of new members.”