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Brief Report UNI-APRO/FES Course on

Increasing Awareness on International Labor Standards and Framework Agreements

July 12-16, 2010 Kathmandu


Introduction

The world economic crisis has renewed the role of state as a buffer against the negative effects of globalization in the lives of workers. Rapid technological change and international competition are, however, weakening job markets and recovery is slow in developing countries. Industrial restructuring and decline in demands of workers affected the remittance and income from tourism. Technological change has favored highly skilled workers and reduced the wages of unskilled. Training and education are the keys to increase the competitiveness of workers in knowledge-driven society. The crisis has also generated some opportunities. The coordinated response of global community has pulled many countries from the global financial crisis. Solidarity created by the response to the crisis has given the leaders powerful lessons that mutual accountability and collective action are prerequisites to achieve the goal of global governance. But, sustainable economic recovery is possible only if financial sector reforms serve various classes of workers. Knowledge about the functions of ILO, international trade union secretariats, global union federation, World Trade Organization and market-based globalization are essential to cope with the emerging challenges and prevent the fragmentation of political spheres, unraveling of state-society harmony and structural rifts and conflicts.

A number of G-20 Summits have committed to put quality employment at the heart of the recovery and prepare the skilled workforce for future challenges and opportunities for robust, sustainable and balanced growth. Knowledge about global development is essential for the workers and their unions to adapt and influence decision making at the national, regional and global levels and develop strategies for social protection and social security and exercise labor, constitutional and human rights. Ability to interpret international labor standards is necessary to understand the objectives of trade unions, monitor and supervise as to whether standards are sincerely met by companies and the government and exert pressure for the government and enforce "corporate social responsibility." The current effort of UNI-APRO to increase awareness and enhance skills of trade union leaders on international Labor Standards and Framework Agreements in South Asia is appropriate strategy to empower the union leaders and synergize the knowledge at various layers of unions. Awareness of rights and duties makes workers conscious of the impact of emerging financial and other issues on their lives and consciously shape democratic economic future.

Objectives of the Course

These general objectives of the five-day course aimed to assist the union leaders to:

  • Increase the knowledge, skills and understanding of participants on the use of International Labor Standards and Framework Agreement as instruments for pursuing trade union objectives;;
  • Motivate the participants to be pro-active organizing and developing campaigns to ensure the application and respect for international labor standards at workplace in the country.

The specific objectives are:

  • familiarize the union leaders with the structure, functions and role of ILO,
  • discuss core ILO Conventions and their functions,
  • role of trade union in monitoring and supervising international labor standards,
  • list out the content of a good framework agreement,
  • illustrate the changing role of trade union,
  • role of international bodies like the WTO and their role in globalization,
  • formation of network groups to discuss issues on the implementation and monitoring of international, and
  • Labor standards, union works, conduct effective campaigns.

Participants and Resource Persons

There were altogether 26 participants including 5 women from South Asia-Nepali 12, India 6, Bangladesh 2, Pakistan 3 and Sri Lanka 3. One participant from Bangladesh could not come. There were six resource persons-Singapore UNI Office 2, SASK Finland 1, Nepal UNI Office 1 and FES Nepal Office 2 to facilitate the training. Participants represented several unions, such as medical and sales representatives, press, radio, television, postal union, telecom, banking and financial institutes, casino, barber, etc.

Contents and Methodology

The contents of training involved globalization, functions of ILO and International Labor Standards, International Financial Institutions, Global Compact, Code of Conduct, role of Trade Unions in championing workers' rights at national, regional and global level, social dimension in globalization, best framework agreements signed by UNI-APRO, role of trade union in organizing, project presentation, effective communication, presentation skills, group exercises, motivation skills to recruit new members, organizing skills and reaching consensus, delegating responsibilities, role play, leadership development, interview techniques, presentation of proposals and action plans, evaluation, etc. The training methodology involved active learning, lecture presentation, group discussion, demonstration of leadership skill, role playing and interaction. Half-day field visit was organized at industrial zones to see the working condition, salary structure, their interest and involvement in unions and their problems. The UNI-APRO provided adequate training materials resource for further reading and reflection and FES provided Handouts on Democracy.

Outcome

In the evaluation of the program the participants generally viewed the program useful but they also demanded the need to multiply this kind of training at the affiliates' level, increase the number of female participants and contribute to the preparation of country-specific advocacy documents. All the participants felt the need to do follow-up activities in their unions with their own means and resources. They affirmed that they have developed self-confidence in speaking and demonstrated commitment to motivate young women and men to join their respective unions. They will provide them basic awareness training first and tell the new members the cost and benefit of joining unions, explain about national labor laws and core labor standards, union structures, potential incentives and the nature of workers movement worldwide. Each of the five groups formed presented its action plan for fostering decent work. All of the participants have agreed to work collectively for the social protection and welfare of the workers and exchange information among various unions about their strategies to attract new workers. In the project cycle they used strength, weakness, opportunity and threat analysis (SWOT) method and agreed to magnify opportunity in union-building and minimize the source of threat for union effectiveness.

 
Copyright©2001. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Nepal Office
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