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Inviting Bolivian unions to join IndustriALL activities

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9 December, 2015In November, IndustriALL carried out a fact-finding mission to Bolivia to meet with the country’s unions.

There is the only one national centre bringing together all unions in Bolivia, Central Obrera Boliviana (COB). The COB has traditionally maintained a position of not affiliating internationally, but in discussions with IndustriALL it was understood that this may be a point on the agenda at the next congress. In addition, the longstanding principle of independence and non-alignment does not apply to the sectorial federations anymore, as several Bolivian federations, in particular public service unions,  have recently affiliated to global union federations.

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL assistant general secretary gave a presentation about IndustriALL structures at international and regional level, action plan, industrial scope and union networks. Marino Vani, assistant regional secretary, talked about the different activities carried out in the region.

The sectorial federations were particularly interested to hear about global union strategies and networks to deal with transnational companies, as Bolivia has significant natural resources in the mining, extractive and hydrocarbon industries.

The leader from the Mining Federation, who is also the International Secretary of COB, and a Glencore miner, was invited to participate in the upcoming IndustriALL Global Glencore Network meeting. It was agreed to seek opportunities to continue sharing information and involving the sectorial unions in IndustriALL’s regional and international activities where possible.

Meetings were also held with Gonzalo Trigoso, labour minister, who recognised the central role of the COB and welcomed IndustriALL’s fact-finding mission, and with a representative from the vice President’s office who gave an overview of the political situation in Bolivia.

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Bolivia has to date carried out very few activities with the Bolivian unions, mainly capacity building activities with women workers from the textile and garment workers. FES offered to host IndustriALL global activities in Bolivia, and we discussed the possibility of involving young unionists from the textile and mining sectors in the regional youth project and in international level activities, which will be followed up with FES Berlin and the Regional FES office in Montevideo.

Fernando Lopes concluded after the mission:

Currently IndustriALL has no affiliates in Bolivia. But as the country plays an important role at regional level we are happy to welcome the Bolivian unionists to participate in our activities and share experience with our affiliates. We look forward to developing closer cooperation.