"Together we can do more". ISCOS’s prospects in international trade union cooperation

An article on the ISCOS’s prospects in international trade union cooperation by the president of ISCOS-CISL, Renzo Bellini.

It is often said that in the international cooperation field, NGOs are doing the work of the union and the unions, however, behave as NGOs. This is partly true but it must be analysed very well what it means. It ’true that sometimes, due to priorities set by funding agencies (EU, UN system agencies, national ministries, etc..) trade union institutes for cooperation development operate in developing countries with socio-economic projects, even without the direct involvement of trade unions. These are areas that definitely should be limited to not distort the original mission of the organizations representing the workers.

The ISCOS Cisl poses as a minimum condition of its activities, the act to promote and create opportunities for decent work, where this does not exist or is not for all. In these cases, the action of the Institute prefigures the promotion of associated work ensuring the principles established at the international level, especially the ILO Conventions. There are also projects supporting trade unions that still see no need for a full international partnership.

Then there are also projects supporting directly the trade unions organisations they see stronger international partnership. In these cases it is very difficult to find funds from so-called "classic" international donors (EU, UN, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and State Agencies of Cooperation). It is especially on these issues, the ITUC and its networks must act strongly and decisively because topics such as respect for human and labor rights, which belong to them, can find success at large donor, claiming a leading role. It is not acceptable that profit consulting deal projects to promote human rights and workers in Colombia, Burma and other countries requiring a priority determined and coordinated our actions.

ISCOS-CISL, in this, besides leading his own project activities, together with trade unions and civil society organizations in Brazil, El Salvador, Burma, Mozambique, Mali, Ukraine, Moldova and elsewhere, is conducting, along with solidarity network “Rete Solidarietà CGIL” and “Progetto Sud-UIL” and in partnership with the CSA, a project in Haiti. Launched recently, the project is financed by workers and Confindustria (employers’ organization) and the objective is to support trade unionism and social dialogue in this country through a thousand difficulties, is to create systems of socio-economic development for the sector informal workers, building and micro-enterprise, for the protection of migrants, among others.

This is the type of model that we believe should be promoted. The presence in the CSA action is essential to ensure its relevance in the general framework of reconstruction assistance, as outlined in the document "Trade union road map for the reconstruction" developed and adopted at the ITUC Conference - CSA of Santo Domingo in 2010. The three main Italian confederations, CGIL, CISL and UIL have "answered the call" by deploying human and financial resources available. The progress will be done with a view of integration and multilateralism, also looking at synergies with the ILO, our natural environment for expression of the principles of dialogue and economic democracy.

The trade union cooperation is at a turning point. Keep on thinking as a close system is not possible and, in a globalized world, it is also ahistorical. Being a trade union is to stand together to promote justice. For this reason, theISCOS-CISL optical promotes working together, both national and international level with the involvement of its natural representation, or the ITUC and its regional structures. This will be the winning strategy for the future of the trade union cooperation. So, together, that is the key word, we must make our voices heard strikingly by the European Union and the United Nations so that they listen to us.

Renzo Bellini, president of ISCOS-CISL