Despite disruption to educational and planning events due to Covid-19, the IFWEA Secretariat has a full schedule ahead.
The engagement with Africa GUFS at the beginning of 2020 resulted in a number of digital education and communication activities with GUF partners. The IFWEA Secretariat planned on facilitating education for three UNI-Africa trade union retail alliances during their annual workshops. This has been expanded, and the IFWEA Secretariat will now design online education for the 12 trade unions involved in the retail alliances in the second half of the year.
IFWEA also ran two online workshops with 15 youth from construction trade unions in six southern African countries, affiliated to BWI, on digital communication for trade union campaigns. Four online workshops will be designed and piloted on digital communication tools and methods for organising in the second half of the year with BWI-Africa.
Work with GUFs
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, a number of activities were conducted with Global Union Federations. Meetings with global unions in Africa – UNI, IndustriALL, BWI, ITF – were conducted in January and February where the need to introduce online education programmes were discussed. IFWEA facilitated the FES and UNI Africa Retail Project in January which is the strategy forum for the UNI Africa Trade Union Retail Alliances. IFWEA also facilitated an education session in an ITF and FES workshop that brought together all the major unions in South Africa to deal with declining union density in the industry.
Covid-19 greatly disrupted the programmes of all the GUFS in the region. The IFWEA Programme Manager interviewed selected General Secretaries of Africa GUFS to enquire about the impact and assist with the development of online emergency responses to the challenges confronted by trade unions at a national and local level. This was written up as a report for FES and IFWEA is now working on a second phase of setting up online applications to support trade unions as well as extending this project onto the global arena. There are also discussions with Latin American affiliate, PLADES, to perform a similar investigation in Latin America.
Experience with online meetings
IFWEA, because of its experience with online meetings, helped to host the Africa GUFS Forum meeting, the SATUCC executive committee meeting and four trade union alliance meetings in the retail sector for UNI Africa involving 12 unions from 12 African countries.
- UNI Africa trade union Shoprite Shop Stewards Alliance meeting on 24 March 2020 about the health and safety of workers at Shoprite stores in various African countries.
- UNI Africa trade union Shoprite Shop Stewards Alliance meeting on 7 May 2020 about non-payment of employees in eSwatini and Lesotho.
- UNI Africa trade union Pick n Pay Shop Stewards Alliance meeting on 24 June 2020 about health and safety at Pick n Pay stores in various African countries.
- UNI Africa trade union MassMart Shop Steward Alliance meeting on 8 July 2020 about retrenchments at the stores in various African countries and the lack of consultation with unions by the management.
IFWEA will continue to support GUFS in the second part of the year to build regional and global solidarity especially to counter the effects that the pandemic has had on the organisational, organising and campaigning abilities of their affiliates, understanding that there is a need for flexibility as the education needs may not be the same for each GUF.
IFWEA will also explore engagements with ILO and ITUC on collaboration around the national and regional dialogues for the ratification of convention 190 that affiliates will be leading in their respective countries and regions.