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Unions take action in support of sustainable national and regional industry

20 November, 2017Latin American and Caribbean trade unions started to plan action in support of sustainable national and regional industry at an IndustriALL seminar on 15 November in Montevideo, Uruguay

The seminar provided an opportunity for analysis, discussion and planning action on national and regional industry. The unions’ starting point was that industry is an important engine for employment and national economic development and that they need sustainable industrial policies to promote social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Participants presented the economic situation in the region’s countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, identified similarities in their respective economies and devised a joint agenda. Job losses, the fall in production and violations of workers' rights by the multinationals were common threads to all these discussions.

Participants also learned about initiatives taken by unions in other countries to defend sustainable national industries. For example, Miguel Soto of Industrial Chile described a plan to form a state-owned company to produce lithium in the Atacama salt flats. Chile has more than half (54%) of the world’s lithium reserves and lithium carbonate is used in the production of batteries and electric cars.

The president of CNQ/CUT (affiliated to IndustriALL) and co-president of IndustriALL’s executive committee, Lucineide Varjão, explained how CUT-affiliated unions are working together:

“We decided to form an institute for industry to discuss a sustainable policy for Brazil’s industrial base and we are going to present a joint programme,” she explained.

Participants also heard how unions in some European countries are working together to promote sustainability. Juan Blanco of Spain’s CCOO (affiliated to IndustriALL) explained his union’s joint project with Germany’s IG METALL (affiliated to IndustriALL) to promote industrial recovery and decent jobs.

“We formed an ´Alliance for Industry`, a tripartite agreement to promote technological innovation and identify new strategies to ensure job security. We have to design global strategies that help us develop sustainable industrial policies,” said Blanco.

Latin American unions agreed to continue designing industrial policies that include measures to safeguard and create well-paid, secure jobs, guarantee sustainable employment and ensure they have a say in decision making within their respective industries.

“When we say ‘We Take Action’, this means opposing slave labour and having a more detailed trade union debate so we can think together, combine our ideas, formulate proposals for sustainable development and develop a response to the multinationals,”

said IndustriALL’s Regional Officer, Marino Vani, at the end of the meeting.