Gender equality in cooperation projects from the industry federation of the CC.OO.

The two actions that we have been conducting within the Industry Federation as part of the framework of the Convention of Trade Union Cooperation with Latin America concluded with the Serafín Aliaga Peace and Solidarity Foundation of the CC.OO and the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and Development will come to an end this year. Based on international trade union solidarity, the two actions comply with the objective of strengthening, on trade union level, all the parties that we are involved with, analysing the different realities and establishing shared strategic plans of action to meet the challenges posed by globalisation.

As we have seen in meetings with our partners, the enormous participation of women in the labour market in recent years; they now constitute 40% of the working class, has not led to the elimination of discrimination which women have always suffered in both the private and public sector. Neoliberal globalisation has resulted in a precarious situation for the working class as a whole, directly affecting women and becoming increasingly evident in industrial sectors.

The inequalities strike the system hard, posing a clear threat not only to the Welfare State developed after the Second World War, but also to the very essence of democratic systems where equality constitutes one of the basic cornerstones. Decent work, which is work that is carried out in accordance with the 1998 fundamental ILO Conventions - trade union freedom, the right to strike and bargain collectively, the elimination of child and forced labour and the elimination of all forms of discrimination in the workplace– and that the work carried out is under contract, for a fair wage and with the right to basic social security services, attempt to make this the objective of international trade unionism, necessary to change this economic model, as detailed in the Guía para la formación sindical internacional. Globalización, Negociación Colectiva y Acción sindical en la empresa transnacional (globalisation, collective bargaining and trade union action in the transnational corporation) produced by CC.OO’s Industry Federation as the culmination of work carried out within the framework of one of the projects.

This guide dedicates an entire chapter to equality between men and women in transnational corporations, with a view to implementing, after carrying out a diagnostic of the current situation, effective strategies to correct gender inequalities and discrimination in the work place, while at the same time effectively meeting the challenges posed by the new company structure to trade union action.

We have always tried to incorporate gender mainstreaming in the planning and development of our projects. Despite the difficulties – different socio-cultural, political, legislative and trade union conditions in the various countries – we have sought to both guarantee the participation of women trade unionists in actions and also to hold a monographic meeting on gender equality within the framework of each one of these. If we really believe that to change the world, we must change women’s lives, we must act accordingly and women should be fundamental actors, but not exclusively so, in this process.

This practice has allowed us on one hand, to establish an ideological discourse and a shared strategy to fight for effective equality in our action areas and on the other hand, to learn about the instruments that we have at our disposal, such as trade union networks and international framework agreements and supranational trade union structures in order to meet one of the objectives of international trade union action i.e. the universalisation of fundamental labour rights.

Unfortunately, the cut backs made by the People’s Party Government to international cooperation, hinder trade union cooperation, have a direct effect on the activities carried out within the Industry Federation and consequently, on the right to genuine equality that we would like to be able to guarantee and which is necessary for democracy in in every country in the world. This is why we must continue to look for alternatives that will allow us to develop the trade union action needed by workers all around the world.

Isabel Rodero. Director of Equality and coordinator of Cooperation Projects for the Trade Union Federation of Workers’ Commissions