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"IndustriALL must lead in women’s representation"

24 June, 2014Trade union affiliates called on IndustriALL Global Union to take the lead in women’s representation at the Women’s Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on 23 June 2014.

Monica Veloso from IndustriALL affiliate CNTM Brazil said that IndustriALL had an opportunity to present a pioneering vision. “We are constructing a new organization on the basis of equality,” she said.

“IndustriALL was founded just two years ago. Change has to start from the national level but the global level can give a good stimulus,” said IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina.

IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle said:

“We must set an example and ensure women are represented appropriately at all levels of IndustriALL Global Union.  We have to inspire our affiliates that 40 per cent participation by women at the decision-making level is possible as shown by many of our affiliates.”

The extensive debate on quotas stemmed from two recent regional conferences (Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific) where participants adopted a resolution for a 40 per cent women’s quota at all levels of IndustriALL. This refers to the Congress, the Executive Committee, the President and Vice-Presidents, the General Secretary and Assistant General Secretaries.

Despite reservations from some affiliates about achieving 40 per cent representation, there were some positive examples of union experiences. Delegates heard that Brazil’s CNQ-CUT recent women’s conference, attended by 400 members, initiated a demand to employers that 30 per cent of new hires must be women. Brigitte Capelle from French metalworkers’ union FO, said that French company reporting now includes figures on recruiting and career development enabling unions to analyze the barriers to women’s progress at work. They have found there are too many women in some areas and not enough in others.

It was confirmed that the Women’s World Conference will take place in Vienna, Austria from 14 to 16 September 2015. The basic theme, which will be fine-tuned in the next few months, is “Transforming structures through women’s leadership”. Barrier’s to women’s representation, including sexism, and women’s leadership will also be on the agenda.

The Women’s Committee decided to continue collecting data from affiliates and urge them to complete the questionnaire on women’s presence in their unions.

The working group on women’s participation, which took place in the afternoon, asked for the following information in order for it to do justice to its tasks:

  • Statistics on women’s presence in IndustriALL’s sectors
  • Figures on women’s presence in IndustriALL’s secretariat
  • The breakdown of chairs and co-chairs in each sector
  • Regulations on women’s participation in other Global Union Federations and the ITUC

The working group also called for a debate on:

  • IndustriALL’s statutes
  • Policy changes to improve women’s participation
  • Best ways to fund and carry out women’s capacity building
  • Administrative decisions that may need to be taken by the Executive Committee
  • What needs to done by the sectorial meetings over and above the co-chair positions
  • Next steps for the women’s committee, in consultation with affiliates

Chair, Christina Olivier, from South African metalworkers’ union NUMSA, will report back to the Executive Committee meeting, taking place in Geneva on 25 and 26 June.