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Latin American workers demonstrate the strength of the paper sector

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7 November, 2023Over 80 pulp and paper workers from Latin America and the Caribbean recently met in Brazil to determine the next steps in the project run by IndustriALL and Belgian union federation ACV-CSC BIE, aimed at strengthening the sector’s union networks.

After meeting in Uruguay in April, Latin American pulp and paper unions affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union came together again on 23 and 24 October in São Paulo, Brazil. The aim was to determine what activities would be carried out under the project, the priority issues to be addressed and how best to take advantage of this new opportunity for cooperation in order to further strengthen the sector.

A presentation was given by ACV-CSC BIE president Patrick Vandenberghe on the project fund and how it was negotiated by ACV-CSC BIE. In addition, Bismo Sanyoto, coordinator of the Asian network MSN/INSP!R, provided an analysis of the Belgian federation's projects with pulp and paper industry unions in Indonesia.

Furthermore, Tom Grinter, IndustriALL director for the pulp and paper sector, spoke about IndustriALL's regional and global activities, providing an overview of the sector at both levels. Participants then added to this by discussing industrial, union and political developments in the region and providing information on the situation in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay.

Participants also discussed promoting decent work in the pulp and paper sector through high-quality jobs, direct and permanent contracts, diversity-friendly recruitment and the promotion of vocational training. They also discussed the employment situation in priority companies in the region.

A strategic discussion was held on how best to take advantage of the new partnership opportunity, starting with in-person meetings and the creation of new networks of workers at transnational companies. Participants also spoke about the need to deepen union work on issues such as workplace health and safety, the environment and ensuring a just transition. It would also be important for unions to obtain more information on changes made to the names and capital of paper companies in Latin America.

Participants pointed out the importance of working to foster an identity for the pulp and paper sector, with a stronger union presence. They stressed that women needed to be more involved in union activities and ties between unions needed to be strengthened to further empower unions. It was important to look for ways to foster a three-way industrial dialogue between unions, companies and governments.

Tom Grinter said:

"This important union work has brought together colleagues from across our vibrant IndustriALL pulp and paper sector in Latin America.

“With the valuable contribution of Belgian union leaders, pulp and paper unions across the region are drawing on their know-how and campaigning on key issues for paper workers. This is a great example of strong sector-based union networking, and IndustriALL is committed to keeping up this momentum in the years to come.”