The participation of the trade union movement in the process of South-South cooperation and triangular marked the discussions on Wednesday (29 August) during the seminar organised by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and CSA (Trade Uni …

Andrew Asia, Brasil, China, South America, CNM-CUT,

The participation of the trade union movement in the process of South-South cooperation and triangular marked the discussions on Wednesday (29 August) during the seminar organised by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and CSA (Trade Union Confederation of Workers from Americas), with CUT support.

For Artur Henrique, Deputy International Relations and coordinator of the Institute for International Cooperation of the CUT, it is the role of the union movement to appropriate the theme, play and influence all the processes involving cooperation between countries. “We have to do a counterpoint to the bureaucratic model of cooperation that takes into account only the enhancement of trade and profitability with exploitation of workers and demand commitments and counterparts to ensure decent work, freedom of association, collective bargaining and respect for human rights.”

One goal of the workshop is to establish a common agenda with rules and principles, so that the international trade union movement can put pressure on their respective governments to ensure a fair and sympathetic cooperation, which brings real progress for the people of both parties.

“This is a big challenge, since all international relations are guided by interests. From this conception, the union movement must build its principles, taking advantage of every opportunity to influence the direction of policies that governments have been implementing, “said Kjeld Jakobsen, former leader of the CUT and consultant in International Relations.

Victor Baez, Secretary General of the CSA, recalled that the current situation presents recent democratic processes, except in Honduras and Paraguay, which opens a larger space for union participation. But it was not always so. “We’re in a different situation experienced in the 70s and 80s, where cooperation was restricted to union struggle for democracy. Today, we fight for the consolidation of democracy and the advancement of a sustainable model, “he said.

“Regardless of the rise of progressive governments, does not mean that we will automatically have open a cooperation to unionism. It is also important to strengthen the political union cooperation at national, continental and worldwide, with more training and formation of social actors, which also allows us to compete with government cooperation model, “added the head of the CSA.

China-Africa Cooperation: disrespect to the laws and exploitation of African countries

During the seminar there was an open space for discussion about the process of cooperation between China and African countries. In common, the certainty that the benefits are institutionalized only between the governments of the countries involved and Chinese companies. For local people, disrespect for human rights, social norms and labour, unemployment, hunger and poverty.

José da Costa, from KSTL of East Timor, said that China’s cooperation policy in the country comes down to the export of raw materials, manpower from the Asian country and exploiting the natural resources of East Timor. In a country with over a million inhabitants, where less than 10% of workers are active, there are about seven thousand Chinese doing the work of the local population. “There is a big unemployment problem and we need to debate and discuss how the government should cherish this manpower that is excluded from the labour market. Unfortunately, the effects of this cooperation has brought many negative impacts to African nations, “he lamented.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, there are a strong presence of Chinese companies. The local union movement sought dialogue with these corporations, but faced strong resistance. Most of the workers who work in the infrastructure sector are Chinese. “And with this Chinese presence, how will we reduce unemployment and have minimally decent jobs if unionization is not accepted in the business?”, asked himself Annick de Ruyer, of the Trade Union Confederation of Congo.

For Antonio Tuja, co-president of BetterAid despite the countries independence, this form of cooperation can be considered a process of colonialism in the sense of exploitation natural resources and workers.

In South Africa, where the informal sector is very large, China brings together manufactured goods and manpower, ending the domestic industry, jobs and local progress. “We need to encourage and seek cooperation where everyone benefits,” says Zanele Matebula, from the union federation Cosatu.

Mamadou Faye, ITUC representative, reported the recent construction of a large theatre in Senegal as a result of cooperation with China, where almost all materials and all manpower was exported from China. “The beneficiaries should be much more cautious when receiving help from countries like China. Our nations must seek inspiration in some southern intermediaries countries who have made a policy of cooperation which benefits the people and the trade union movement involvement and the civil society organizations in building policies. ”

Other testimonies

The international seminar had union leaders participation from organizations in five continents. On Wednesday afternoon, some leaders were invited to expose union cooperation initiatives in their respective countries.

From CUT Antonio Lisboa, executive director, spoke about the terms of cooperation with other agencies, guided by the principles of solidarity and social justice.

The Central Union has currently cooperation projects on training and union communication with Angola, Cape Verde, Honduras, Chile, Paraguay and Haiti (CNTE and CUT). Currently, the CUT is organising a project in Mozambique for union organisation of domestic workers and health & safety training with African Portuguese speakers. The last one is the first project in partnership with the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and the ILO. “We still need the Brazilian government to establish clearer rules and objective, increasing the need for international cooperation,” stated Lisbon.

Others who poke about their experiences included Lee Induk, from FKTU Korean Central union; Rekson Silaban, KSBI central union Indonesia; Zanele Matebula, Cosatu trade union federation in South Africa; Maressa La Roux, CGSLB central union  of Belgium, José da Costa KSTL central union of East Timor, and Bernardo Rojas, CUT-Autentica from Paraguay.

Source: CUT National

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