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18 December, 2020As 2020 draws to an end, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches reflects on one of most challenging years for mankind in many decades.

“The year ends with over 75 million people infected and almost 1.7 million deaths, around 500 million formal jobs and around 1.6 billion informal jobs destroyed and few signs of recovery in the short term. While immunization is starting in some countries, there are serious concerns that universal access to vaccines is unlikely to be a reality in the coming months.
“The pandemic unfortunately continues to spike with more and more record new daily cases. This has obliged us to postpone our Congress, supposed to take place last October. After a decision by our Executive Committee, Congress will be held fully online in September 2021.
“Our affiliated unions throughout the world have led the fight to protect the health, safety, jobs and income of their members, with special attention to those affected the most like women, young people, black workers, LGBTQIA+, etc. At the same time. that in some countries our affiliates managed to achieve alternative schemes to avoid dismissals like furloughs, partial unemployment, temporary lay-off, reduction of worktime, etc., around 60 per cent still lack any social protection.
“At IndustriALL, we have put all our resources to support our affiliates changing dramatically the way we work but managing to more than double the number of global and regional activities that counted with almost ten thousand participants through online mode. The access to our website more than doubled to about 200,000 views per month, and we have published four guides on health and safety.
“To this date, we have sent almost 400 letters to companies, governments, multilateral organizations, and solidarity letters to our affiliates (65 per cent more than the average of the previous four years), supporting the fight to protect the health and safety, jobs and income of their members.
“We are running more simultaneous campaigns than ever: BHP, Glencore, Shell, Convention 176, Hong Kong Convention, Convention 190 and TGSL sector. These are mere indicators on how much more we were demanded and responding to. In the report of the secretariat I delivered to the Executive Committee, I listed the number of campaigns, struggles, solidarity actions, and #UnionWin stories we were involved in this year.
“We have been shoulder to shoulder with our affiliates in celebrating achievements when they were able to fight back and win and always at their side to fight the good fight on behalf of workers. In 2021 we’ll keep fighting forward and supporting our affiliates. I herewith would like to publicly recognize the efforts and flexibility of all our staff at central and regional offices that worked tirelessly despite the challenges of working remotely the major part of the year.
“IndustriALL’s health, safety and sustainability director Brian Kohler, will be retiring from IndustriALL by the end of the year. We are very thankful for his good work, commitment and comradeship with us along the years.
“After careful consideration we decided to redistribute some responsibilities in the central office as follows:
White-collar workers is an area we have to significantly advance, given the growing share of white-collar workers among the total workforce in the industry in general as production processes are through an accelerated technological leap. We assigned this work to our colleague Armelle Seby. We will reshuffle part of the projects under her responsibility, so she can effectively perform this new task alongside with her responsibility for women.
Health & safety continues to be extremely important for our organization moreover because the pandemic puts this in the center of our affiliates’ concerns. This is something that must be part of our work in all sectors and regions. In the most important specific issues in that area, our directors have already been leading all actions as Glen for C176 and Kan for the HK Convention. Our colleague Glen Mpufane was assigned to act as reference person/focal point for OSH. Glen will keep receiving support from the regional offices for the mining sector to allow him to accommodate the addition of this new role.
Just Transition / Sustainability are and will increasingly be of extreme importance for IndustriALL as our sectors are through an accelerated process of transformation driven by the transition from fossil fuels to renewables as main sources for energy generation. Our colleague Diana Junquera was assigned to act as reference person/focal point for JT/Sustainability mostly because she is already leading a number of actions in this area as part of her responsibility for the energy sector.
Industry 4.0 will increasingly be a crucial issue that IndustriALL and especially our affiliates must be responsive to. Over the past three years we took a lot of initiatives to raise awareness of our affiliates: world conference, Action Plan, brochure (in 2017) and regional activities (in 2018 and 2019). Our directors are already taking leadership on addressing the impacts of Industry 4.0 in the various sectors and we have reached the first GFA on this with Renault in 2019 with possible others with other companies on the pipeline. Our colleague Matthias Hartwich was assigned to act as reference person/focal point for Industry 4.0. This is consistent with his responsibility for “Green Tech” as part of the mechanical engineering sector.
“I wish all the best to our colleagues in their new assignments and would like to ask for the usual cooperation from all of you.
“It is important to highlight that all sector directors and regions will continue to be fully responsible for the themes above to the extent of their impact on the respective sectors and regions. Our colleagues above were assigned as reference persons on the respective themes to provide knowledgeable assistance to the organization as a whole (to affiliates, to the leadership, to the colleagues in the central/regional offices) whenever necessary.
“I wish you a merry Christmas for those who celebrate it and a happy new year to ALL.
"In 2021, A LUTA CONTINUA along with the early preparations for our congress in September 2021 that shall deliver a strong Action Plan for the years to come!"