For a trade union solidarity network - Discuss, share, engage

The CGSLB actively supports its trade union partners from the South, consequently it is important to be able to meet and to take stock a year after the launch of our trade union cooperation programme (co-financed by Belgian Cooperation Development).

In Dakar (Senegal from 23-27 April 2012), the discussions focused on the different trajectories that the organisations following to meet the many challenges faced by trade unions on the ground. In fact, the first results are emerging and are already addressing the concerns of workers in South Africa, Senegal, in the DR of Congo, Burundi and Burkina Faso; on cooperation between trade union organisations in South Africa, on labour conditions and social dialogue, collective bargaining, inter-union cooperation, administrative decentralisation and the organisation of new sectors in the informal economy.

Certainly the labour conditions address very different objectives but international trade unionism is in reality dialogue and discussion. Synergies beyond borders provide answers. During our meetings, we also highlighted our partnership. How do we master all the instruments that we use? How can we learn from our efforts? How can we better evolve together?

After a warm opening address from Vera Dos Santos Costa, Head of the International Department, our Senegalese host, the General Secretary of the CNTS, Mody Guire welcomed us. He also reminded us that workers in the north and south at the very least share the challenges of trade unions that make proposals or even in outright opposition during a crisis which is prolonging the effects of globalisation. In Senegal, the reduction of the tax burden on wages (more than 28 billion CFA francs) will not prevent the strong competition from imported consumer products ruining efforts to create jobs. Therefore exiting the crisis is a shared challenge.

During the week, we also worked on our partnership strengthening tool “TU Development Effectiveness Profile tool (TUDEP)”. Given that we want to enhance the quality of our partnership, this tool gives us the possibility, together with our partners from the South, to reflect on different elements such as shared responsibility or transparency. It also enables us to dedicate all the necessary attention to transversal elements such as gender. The guiding principal of our programme which was mutually agreed with our partners is a decision to concentrate on the durability of our partnership.

Actively supporting the African trade unions gives them the possibility of providing their own trade union solutions to the problems faced by these organisations. We listen carefully to the problems encountered by our partners.

What are they telling us?
• Zanele MATEBULA, COSATU (South Africa): “The programme gives us the possibility of having more structured work by our trade union centres in their international relations”
• Célestin NSAVYIMANA, FNTT-SI Burundi: “We can be proud of our pioneering partnership in the informal economy that today allows us to influence social dialogue in my country”
• Mike SIKANI, SACCAWU (South Africa): “The programme has enabled our organisation to resume dialogue with the Department of Economic Affairs about the organisation of collective bargaining”.
• Bamba BOUREIMA, CSB Burkina Faso: “Today, all the regions are ready to meet the trade union challenges posed by administrative decentralisation”.
• Marième SAKHO DANSOKHO, CNTS Senegal: “Inter-union cooperation enables us to better address the challenges of trade union organising in the informal economy”.

We will continue our work to strengthen our trade union solidarity network with workers in the informal economy and through exchanges of best practices and synergies in the years to come.

Article provided by the CGSLB