Boosting trade unions’ development partnerships in Southern Africa

Twenty-five participants from twenty-one labour organisations discussed partnerships and development cooperation at the African Trade Union Development Network (ATUDN) Partnerships Meeting for Southern Africa that took place in Windhoek (Namibia) on 23-24 January.

Which trade union partnerships on development cooperation initiatives are going on in Southern Africa? Are they in line with trade union’s principles on development effectiveness? Is there any need to improve their coordination and coherence across the region? If so, why and how? It was around these questions that twenty-five participants from twenty-one labour organisations met at the African Trade Union Development Network (ATUDN) Partnerships Meeting for Southern Africa that took place in Windhoek (Namibia) on 23-24 January.

The session on mapping the ongoing initiatives in the region gave participants a chance to remind each other about their organisation’s priorities, the work they are doing, the partnerships they are in and the expertise they have on different matters. They also identified new complementarities, which could lead to new partnerships.

I learned much from the discussions in this session. I had the chance to ask burning questions and I received answers to challenges that we have back home.

- Modeste Dongala, Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Congo – UNTC.

Tools to improve

The Development Effectiveness Principles (LINK) are at the core of trade unions’ partnerships and development programmes. For the implementation of these principles, the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN) has devised a set of guidelines - Trade Union Development Effectiveness Principles - and an assessment tool - Trade Union Development Effectiveness Profile Tool (TUDEP). Participants had time to test the tools against one of their project and assess their usefulness.

Left to right: Naome Chakanya (LEDRIZ) and Francoise Vermeersch (IFIS/FGTB) discussing the TUDEP at the Partnerships meeting.


Improving towards stronger partnerships

During this session, the discussions covered both old and new trends. They talked about the remaining influence of colonialism (eg. Namibia became independent only in 1990) and its impact on the environments in which labour organisations operate. Hence, the importance to insist on basing unions’ development principles, which put a strong focus on equal partnership and in achieving self-sustainability. Among the new trends, they mentioned the importance of including “coping strategies” – the capacity to cope in situation of diminishing funds - in partnership plans. They also stressed that it is very important to mainstream climate change in partnerships programmes and make it a fully integrated thematic in the organisations’ main strategy and annual work plans.

This partnerships meeting was a great opportunity to learn more about our respective roles and work. It is a good practice of exchange and knowledge that unions should repeat.

- Françoise Vermeersch, IFSI-FGTB.

Who attended

The following trade unions, global union federations, solidarity organisations and research institutes attended this event: União Nacional dos Trabalhadores Angolanos (UNTA-CS), Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), Union Nationale des travailleurs du Congo (UNTC), Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU), Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU), Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC), Landsorganisasjonen Norge i Afrika (LO Norway/Africa), Instituto Sindacale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo (ISCOS-CISL), Coopération Syndicale Internationale (IFSI-FGTB), IndustriAll Global Union, Building and Wood Workers International (BWint), Solidarité Mondiale/Wereildsolidariteit (WSM), Labour Resource and Research Institute (LARRI-Namibia), Zambia Institute for Labour Research and Development (ZILARD) and the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ).



Related resources

- Trade union development effectiveness principles
- Trade union development effectiveness principles - Poster
- Trade Union Development Effectiveness Profile Tool
- Report of the meeting

This event is co-financed by the European Union