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Report on Organizers Course for Young Leaders

Organised by Union Network International Asia and Pacific (UNI-APRO)

2-6 November, Kathmandu


Introduction

The South Asian states and peoples are better integrated in the global chain of technology, communication, production, trade and exchange and consumption model of the world than within. Given the globalized context of the capital market and deepening economic crisis, the fragmented nature of trade union movement cannot address the workers' legitimate concern and protect their constitutional and human rights. The systemic crisis in ecology, food, energy and finance requires global democratic accountability for their resolution and a sound partnership of the international regimes, states, markets and civil society groups including trade unions as well as enhanced rules and institutions for democracy rooted into the basic values of freedom, social justice, solidarity and peace. Without unionizing the workers, especially bringing more and more young leaders and women it would be difficult to compete with NGOs, market institutions and civil society and create the clout of workers in policy mediation and social change. Providing incentives and building awareness, skills and leadership of youth workers about the changing nature of political economy are essential to cope with the new challenges arising out of systemic crisis at global, regional, national and local levels.

The share of South Asia in world population is one-fifth. But, it hosts 40 percent of the world's poor, majority of them are young. The daily per capita income of 33 percent of people is less than one dollar. Growing poverty, joblessness, inequality in access to healthcare, sluggish economic growth, climate change, food crisis and rising militancy combine to produce vicious cycle of crisis which has deprived majority of working youths of South Asia from creative participation in wealth-creation, exchange and productive life within the region. The region is the major beneficiaries of remittance its workers bring from various parts of the world which has given life to rural economy. But, no one has estimated the social cost of the migration of dynamic section of the region's population. Unions have a bigger role to play in the structural transformation of the condition of injustice and establish sound working environment for workers-men and women. This means the regional societies will never be prosperous unless every young trade union leaders are provided continuous opportunities for learning essential for their knowledge and skill enhancement about the changing dimension of labor, work and policies, inspire them to join union, bridge the gap between white and blue workers and engage in collective action. With these considerations in mind, the training has been organized in Kathmandu as a follow-up of the previous year. It assessed the progress in this year and build new strategies based on the achievements.

Objectives of the Training

The general objectives of this training are to assist the young union leaders to strengthen the union in the workplace, build skill, knowledge and confidence in organizational work, instill in them a sense of responsibility, beef up their capacity for collective bargaining and foster activism. The specific objectives are: familiarize the participants about the importance of union in society, discuss about the changing role of unions, basic functions and impact of ILO on working people, practice of effective listening and questioning techniques, sources of workers rights, handing grievances of workers, finding and developing activities, planning time, understanding of the global perspective, integration of women, techniques of problem solving, adult education, communication and negotiation skills, etc.

Participation and Resource Persons

Altogether 30 participants -- Bangladesh (3), India (10), Pakistan (2), Sri Lanka (3) and Nepal (12) including 8 women took part in the training. Trainers' team included 4 from UNI-APRO and two from FES. One participant from Pakistan could not come due to sudden illness. Participants represented several unions related to bank, post office, radio and television, telecom, civil service, medical and sales representative and commerce. FES and local UNI-APRO affiliates provided the needed support.

Training Methodology and Contents

Lecture presentation, group work and presentation, interaction, role play, experience sharing and slide presentation. On the presentation of reports 5 groups formed for future planning used SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) Analysis and projected to increase youth and women's membership in their respective unions. Training contents involved the ideals and works of UNI-APRO, FES and ILO and their roles in labor welfare and trade union movement, effective communication especially in writing, speaking and conducting activities, leadership role in organization and campaign, education, adult learning, mapping workplace, formation of workplace organizing committee, developing union activities, building leadership confidence, motivation and inspiration, implication of globalization on workers especially of the current economic crisis, etc.

Outcome

The training sought to meet all the objectives it has underlined. The participants in general expressed that they are well satisfied with the training. They recorded high satisfaction in terms of accommodation and management. But, a reading of their evaluation form recommended that more women should be included, trainers should be more experienced, a guest speaker from academic field should be invited and sub-regional seminars should be organized in every two years. Bangladeshi participants missed the morning session of the first day because of the cancellation of air flight. But, there are more positive sides: networking and communication among the young leaders of various unions have improved and concrete activities have been better conceptualized. Five groups prepared their sector-wise plans for the next year for the induction of more and more youth and women workers in the unions and provide voluntary training as multipliers of knowledge to new members on workers education. Participants have also highlighted the problems as well, such as less interest of women and youth in unions, gap in perception between the white and blue collar workers, leadership capture by white collar workers, conflict between unions, double membership of members, anti-union nature of management, political interference, etc. But, they have also agreed to coordinate their activities, seek support from labor-friendly organizations-both national and international, mobilize resources, prepare strategies and implement the action plans for implementation.

 
Copyright©2001. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal Office
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