NIPSA has teamed up with local charity Tools for Solidarity with their latest shipment bound for Tanzania See page 6
Chairperson’s Foreword Colleagues
I am delighted to endorse the November 2011 Global Solidarity Newsletter which once again contains excellent articles on many issues that your Global Solidarity Committee is involved with. On the front cover you will see a photograph of “Tools for Solidarity” (TFS) putting together a shipment of refurbished Sewing Machines bound for Tanzania. The article explains brilliantly the magnificent work that TFS does and how we in NIPSA should be so pleased that we are able to collaborate with them. Another new project that NIPSA is supporting is a Christian Aid project in Egypt that aims to uphold quarry workers’ rights in Egypt. Once again we should be delighted to be involved with such a fundamental issue for our fellow trade unionists in Egypt. Once again I would draw your attention to the appeal for new donators. Please read the parts “How can you help?” and “Why is NIPSA’s Developing World Fund unique?” I really do not apologise for continually driving this point in my forewords but it is a fact that there could be many more projects done with NIPSA backing if we had more funding from YOU the member! Think about it?? As always please enjoy the newsletter.
Trevor Smyth Chairperson
NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee
Labour under Christian Aid’s Jonathan Hanson reports on a three year project, supported by NIPSA, that aims to uphold labour rights in the stone quarries of Al Minya, Egypt. Ashraf Abdulkarim was only six years old when he began work in the stone quarries. Despite gaining an education, the lack of employment opportunities available meant that Ashraf remained in the quarries until an accident curtailed his career at the age of 43. “It was very hard work [in the quarry] – but you’re paid according to your output so I really pushed myself to work harder, until I had an accident and hurt my back, and now I can’t work any more.” Thankfully, Ashraf, with advice from Christian Aid partner Wadi el Nil, had previously registered for social insurance. This now helps him to support his family. He has also been able to find employment with the local quarry workers union, where he is secretary, and is involved in helping other quarry workers to stand up for their rights. Ashraf ’s story epitomises the plight of thousands of fellow Egyptians in the stone quarries of Al Minya, and, indeed, of many in the country as a whole. Although Egypt is often more associated with pyramids, luxury Red Sea resorts, and, more recently, the ‘Arab Spring’, over 16 million of the nation’s 80 million odd inhabitants live in crushing poverty. This inequality and lack of opportunities is especially pronounced in the southern regions, far removed from the economic centres of Cairo and Alexandria. Nowhere is the cycle of poverty felt more acutely than in Al Minya, a governorate several hundred kilometres south of the capital, Cairo. The presence of 300 square kilometres of limestone quarries, the scarcity of agricultural land, and the lack of alternative means of employment have contributed to the local population and economy being almost completely dependent on the quarries. More than 25,000 men work in the quarries and, despite it being illegal in Egypt, nearly 5,000 children too. And the work is dangerous. Exposed electric cables and rotating saws can stun, maim or even kill workers.
upholding quarry workers’ rights in Egypt
The constant exposure to limestone dust can lead to breathing problems and asthma, while the continued lifting of heavy stone blocks often results in back injuries, and, like in Ashraf ’s case, to early retirement because of injury. Most of the workers’ wives have also been constrained by a lack of employment opportunities outside of the home.
rights, and enhancing their participation in local decision making processes. A fully functioning and self-sustaining union has been established in Al Minya, with an elected board and a membership of hundreds of quarry workers already. The union was officially registered in September this year, one of the first independent trade unions in Egypt.
Wadi el Nil, a local NGO that has been a Christian Aid partner since 2007, works to remedy the situation. In the short term, it provides measures like protective clothing, and health and safety training, which are vital for a safe working environment. But Wadi el Nil is also committed to the longer-term struggle for labour rights. It aims to empower the quarry workers of Al Minya to stand up for themselves through the provision of information and training, through unionisation, and by claiming legally entitled benefits, such as social insurance.
The project also aims to make progress on some other important issues. Key labour concerns will be addressed, such as work and safety conditions, pay, and social/health insurance coverage. Training in human and labour rights, and the provision of ID and insurance cards, will also help workers and their families access local services and become involved in local decision-making. Thirdly, literacy and skills training will help to improve the confidence and skills of quarry workers’ wives. Local women will be able to choose from a variety of training opportunities, including sewing, cooking, hairdressing and handicraft-construction.
Wadi el Nil’s activities have already been effective. In 2009, a new tax on quarry owners and workers was proposed which could have crippled the local quarrying industry and resulted in widespread unemployment. Through the collective bargaining structures put in place with help from Wadi el Nil, the quarry employers and employees lobbied the local governor and went on strike. Their efforts paid off: the proposed tax increase was cancelled. The current three-year project in Al Minya, with support from NIPSA, focuses on helping quarry workers realise their economic and social
Support from NIPSA’s Global Solidarity Fund will enable this project to bring transformative change to the quarry workers. They will unionise, key labour concerns will be dealt with, and workers and their families will benefit from a better quality of life. As the sun rises on a new era for Egypt, the future looks brighter for Ashraf and for the quarry workers of Al Minya.
Ashraf Abdulkaram started working in the quarries when he was only six years old. 3
Twelve long years to victory The Afro Colombian communities have been one of the most severely affected groups in Colombia… after a 12 year battle, the community managed to get their land title formally awarded by the Colombian Government.
Speaker at the ceremony when the Afro Colombian community were awarded their land title ( from September this year)
A Caritas Colombia delegation visited the UK and Ireland in June of this year in order to raise awareness of the situation of victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, especially those who have been displaced from their land. The bloody armed conflict in Colombia, which has lasted now for
more than forty years, has led to the displacement of more than 5 million people and the usurpation and abandonment of 6 million hectares of land. Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao director of Caritas Colombia was accompanied by two community leaders from Colombia who have been at the
Mélida Esther Guevara, from the Afro Colombian community organisation Cocomopoca and Jesús Alberto Castilla Salazar, a peasant leader from Catatumbo, pictured with members of NIPSA’s Global Solidarity Committee.
coalface of Colombia’s armed conflict. Mélida Esther Guevara, from the Afro Colombian community organisation Cocomopoca and Jesús Alberto Castilla Salazar, a peasant leader from Catatumbo. The Afro Colombian communities have been one of the most severely affected groups in Colombia by the armed conflict and Melida’s own community had been involved in a 12 year long legal battle with the Colombian authorities trying to get legal title to their land, even though the rights of Afro Colombia communities to collective land is formally guaranteed by the Colombian constitution.) The Caritas delegation was also accompanied by Louise Winstanley from ABColombia, an advocacy platform that represents the major UK and Irish NGOs working in Colombia (Trocaire, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Oxfam GB and SCIAF).
As well as meeting politicians, Jesus Alberto and Mélida also had an opportunity to meet with the NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee who, through their Global Solidarity work, have been very active on raising awareness of the situation of human rights violations in Colombia. Following from their visit to Europe in June, in September we got some great news: finally after 12 a year battle, Melida and her community managed to get their land title formally awarded by the Colombian Government. Melida has no doubt “that (the) trip (to Europe) was one of the key aspects that helped to build pressure and accelerate the land title process in recent months.”
David O’Hare ©
Whilst in Northern Ireland, the delegation met with NI MEPs Jim Nicholson and Bairbre de Brun and Naomi Long MP and highlighted the importance of the land issue in Colombia, particularly in the context of the recently negotiated EU Colombia Free Trade Agreement, as well as the ongoing seriousness of the human rights situation. These political meetings were extremely important as they ensure that Colombia remains high on the agenda for the EU and the British Government. Both the MEPs and the MP have been active since the visit and have put questions to the European Commission as well as to the British Government.
Above: Bairbre de Brun (MEP), Jim Nicholson (MEP), Eithne McNulty (Trocaire’s Regional Manager), Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao (Head of Caritas Colombia) and Louise Winstanley (ABColombia).
Above: Speakers at the ceremony when the Afro Colombian communities were awarded their land title.
Above: Smiling faces at the ceremony to hand over land titles to the Afro Colombian peoples. 5
In the struggle to develop,
bare hands are not enough Tools For Solidarity gives old tools a new lease of life giving skilled tradespeople in Africa the chance of a livelihood. With help from NIPSA the latest shipment of sewing machines and tools are heading for Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. NIPSA, in collaboration with Tools for Solidarity, a local charity in Northern Ireland, is helping women and people with disabilities in rural areas of Tanzania work their way out of poverty through the provision of sewing machines and other tools to 1200 tailors to help them with their small businesses. Through regular donations received from NIPSA members to the NIPSA Developing World Fund we have been able to support this 3 year project totalling ÂŁ26,400 with Tools for Solidarity, who have been reconditioning unwanted sewing machines and tools and sending them to help artisans in Africa since 1984. On the 23rd of September a container left the Tools For Solidarity workshop in Belfast destined for the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre (MSTC) on the southern shores of Lake Victoria. This is a unique solidarity project combining the efforts of local and international volunteers in Belfast with the work of trained mechanics and teachers in Mwanza to support the artisan tailoring sector.
living in the Lake Zone. Most of the machines will go to womenâ€™s tailoring groups in rural areas, with a small percentage allocated to vocational training colleges to train young people in tailoring skills. The shipment included: 424 sewing machines 15 treadles 6 knitting machines 11 tool boxes for maintenance technicians 150 boxes of material (cloth, zips, threads etc) 5 boxes of sewing machine spares 5 bicycles plus other resources. It took 3 and a half days to load everything into the container with the valuable support of volunteers from Belfast, Downpatrick and Kilkeel. The first shipment which left on Friday 23th September 2011
took 6 weeks to get to Tanzania and another 3 weeks to clear customs and travel by road the 500 miles to Mwanza and MSTC. The sewing machines inside, coupled with training and material, will enable 400 tailors to improve their income generating activities. The tools and bicycles will be provided to sewing machine technicians trained at the centre, who will then go back to their districts and offer their services to the local tailors. The latest news from the manager of the project, Jane Madete informed us that they have carried out assessments in Mara region interviewing over 300 applicants who have applied for sewing machines and training. She has also told TFS that they have rented 2 houses in Mwanza to provide free accommodation to tailors when attending training.
The MSTC will refurbish the machines for artisan tailors Left: Michael Kuta (on placement from Germany), busy in the Tools for Solidarity workshop recycling sewing machines destined for the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre, Tanzania. Right: Ready for the long journey , NIPSA are funding containers and shipment to Tanzania for the next three years.
NIPSA and Trócaire fighting for the vulnerable
Above: A member of CENDEROS helping a migrant worker
Nicaraguan migrant workers in Costa Rica are one of the most vulnerable groups in the Central American region. Forced to leave their homes in search of work so they can support their families, they are often undocumented and work without job or social security. They are easily exploited. With the support of NIPSA, overseas development agency Trócaire continues to work with local partner organisations in Costa Rica, CENDEROS and Pastoral Social Caritas, to help these migrant workers. These organisations provide training so workers know what rights they have and advocate on workers behalf to the Costa Rican government. CENDEROS also lobbies the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan authorities to introduce policy and legislative measures that will help protect the rights of migrant workers. Thanks to funding from NIPSA’s Developing World Fund, agreements have been reached with the Costa Rican authorities that have helped protect the rights of migrant workers. For example, the National Council on Migration has awarded health cards to migrant workers in Costa Rica which entitle them to access to health services in the country. Since July 2010 CENDEROS and Pastoral Social Caritas have been able to provide support to 1356 of the most vulnerable migrant workers, including private security guards, agricultural labourers and domestic workers. Ordinary people who are just trying to earn an honest living. Workers like: 8
Alvaro Morales who worked as a private security guard. When he asked his employer for social security he was sacked. His employer said he didn’t have any right to social security. Alvaro went to CENDEROS to ask for support and CENDEROS helped him to present his complaint to the Labour Ministry, who found in his favour. His boss appealed the finding and the case is still ongoing. Sebastian Figueroa who worked on a coffee plantation as a labourer without any job security. Because of the damaging chemicals used on the plantation, Sebastian asked for protective gloves and a protective mask to protect against the damaging effects of these chemicals. Instead of being given these he was sacked. He reported the case to the Labour Ministry and a hearing date was set. However, his former employer did not show up. Sebastian is determined to continue to fight the case and get the money he is owed. Johana Gamboa was a domestic labourer who worked for a high profile Venezuelan government official. She was sexually harassed, mistreated and threatened. She contacted CENDEROS through the Nicaraguan Women’s Network and they helped her contact the police to report the crime. Johana was also provided with psychological support after her traumatic ordeal and CENDEROS helped report the case to the Labour Ministry. As a result the perpetrator was arrested by the police. Marisella Baltodano was a domestic servant who worked in the home of an employee of the national electricity company who passed away. The employer’s husband refused to pay outstanding wages to Marisella and sacked her. With the support of CENDEROS Marisella reported the incident to the Labour Ministry and succeeded in getting back some of the money she was owed. NIPSA’s continued support of Trócaire and it’s partners in Costa Rica will ensure that many more vulnerable workers can receive the help and support they deserve. To find out more about Trócaire’s work log on to www.trocaire.org
Crisis in East Africa NIPSA donates £2,000 The drought situation across east Africa has reached crisis levels with Famine being declared across 5 regions in Somalia and with parts of Kenya and Ethiopia experiencing severe food crisis.
This is the worst drought to hit the region in over 60 years, leaving more than 14.3 million people in need of emergency humanitarian aid. With 25 years experience across the region, Concern Worldwide is directly providing emergency response to over 580,000 people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Many of those affected by the drought are pastoralists, whose lives and livelihoods are sustained by livestock and living off the land. The drought has devastated their crops, and their animals are dying from lack of water and basic nutrition. This ‘worst case scenario’ has led to widespread food shortages, with millions of men, women and children forced to leave their homes in the hope of finding help. Children are particularly suffering from a lack of food and water. In some areas malnutrition is affecting over 50 percent of children, one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world (when over 30% are affected a famine is officially declared). As a consequence of the situation, food prices have skyrocketed - in some places by 200%. Markets across the region are almost empty of staple foods, while rising global costs are having an impact on the humanitarian response. In some areas, particularly in Somalia, the crisis is exacerbated by conflict which can make reaching people with aid incredibly difficult.
the people. Concern also provides emergency nutrition to a total of eight districts. As already mentioned, many people, including thousands of infants under 5, have had to leave their homes in search of food. Concern has set up outpatient therapeutic programme centres for internally displaced people where parents can bring their children to receive essential and life-saving treatment. Your generous donation will ensure that malnourished children are given access to Plumpy’nut - a lifesaving therapeutic food that will help to bring them back from the brink of starvation. The situation is critical and it is only with the help of supporters like you that we can continue to provide vital food, water and kits containing sleeping mats, blankets and mosquito nets to families who have nothing left. Thank you once again for your continued support for Concern’s work. Your donation has helped us to help those most desperately in need across east Africa quickly and effectively.
How is Concern Responding? Thanks to your generosity and support, our team in the Horn of Africa will continue to respond to this crisis with lifesaving supplies of food, water and non-food item kits. The main response to this situation is done through the provision of water which entails physically trucking large volumes of safe drinking water to communities where there is insufficient or no water to meet the needs of 9
Creating positive attitudes NIPSA collaborated in funding a two day course in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania focusing on attitudes to disability in the workforce.
Above: With the help of NIPSA and Disability Aid Abroad, the Tanzanian trade union TUICO held a two day course to create positive attitudes towards people with disabilities.
NIPSA and local Northern Ireland charity Disability Aid Abroad in collaboration with Tanzanian trade union TUICO organised a two day training on
Disability Awareness to TUICO members and officials, in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. 42 participants attended the training as part of the Tanzanian
Trade Union Employment Support Programme for Disabled Workers which is sponsored in co-operation with international trade unions. NIPSA has been a sponsor of the project since it started in 2009 The training took place in Kigamboni, Dar Es Salaam from 14th to 16th June, 2011. Participants attended the training from TUICO and 6 companies based in Dar es Salaam. The main criteria used to select the companies was the number of employees with disability which the company has, as identified by the 2010 Employment Survey.
Above: Mr Vincent Kaduma, a disabled member of Tanzanian partner union TUICO, the lead facilitator in the training. 10
The aim of the training was to encourage and motivate employers and trade union representatives to respond to the needs of people with disabilities in accessing employment and
How can you help? Raising Money The challenge is there for members and branches to work up fund raising ventures.
Donating We encourage members, if they can afford it, to give regularly by either taking out a covenant or authorising a Give As You Earn (GAYE) payroll deduction. If you would like to do this, please complete the deduction slip below, and make a real difference to the lives of the poor people of the world. Above: A speaker at the course
that they fully support a diverse workforce. It also aimed at increasing the participants’ understanding on disability so that they avoid stereotyping and create positive attitude towards people with disabilities. The lead facilitator in the training was Mr Vincent Kaduma, a disabled member of Tanzanian partner union TUICO, who is employed and funded by the Trade Union programme. The training materials used were adapted by Disability Aid Abroad using the ICTUs Disability Champions programme as a template, and translated into Swahili.
NIPSA/Developing World Fund
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The 2011 target is to train 100 ‘Disability Champions’ and to provide employment for 30 disabled trade union workers.
In November Heather Logan, a NIPSA member and a disability training manager with Disability Action will travel to Tanzania to design an employment support programme for disabled workers and to train employment support advisers.
The employment support project has been remarkably successful and at last months meeting of the ICTU’s Global Solidarity it was discussed about the feasibility of expanding the programme into Uganda in 2012, using the Tanzanian experience as a template.
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Why is NIPSA’s Developing World Fund unique? The Fund is unique because ..... not a single penny of the money contributed by members goes towards administration - 100% of the money donated goes towards the specific self-help projects which NIPSA supports; ..... for every £1 contributed by members (who pay tax), NIPSA is able to recover paid tax, eg £5 per month deducted from your gross wage (before tax) actually costs you only £3.90 (at the basic rate of tax); ..... the General Council donates to the Fund each year. This money does not come out of NIPSA’s funds, but out of the Union’s fee fund, which is made up of the monies paid to union officials for their appearances on industrial tribunals and other public bodies.
Geraldine Alexander Global Solidarity Committee NIPSA Harkin House 54 Wellington Park Belfast BT9 6DP Tel: 028 9066 1831 Fax: 028 9066 5847 Minicom: 028 9068 7285 Email: email@example.com Web: www.nipsa.org.uk Views expressed in this Newsletter are not, unless otherwise stated, the views of NIPSA.
ICTU Global Solidarity Summer School 2011 Trevor Smyth and Mike Hamilton report on the ICTU Global Solidarity Summer School. Trevor Smyth (NIPSA GS Chairperson) and Mike Hamilton (NIPSA Youth Committee) represented NIPSA at the ICTU Global Solidarity Summer School in The Carlton Hotel, Galway from 2nd – 3rd September 2011. Both Trevor and Mike found the event enjoyable, extremely informative and rewarding. Although Trevor had attended other ICTU Global Solidarity events this was Mike’s first and he especially felt that it challenged him enormously and give him plenty to think about on a wide range of Global issues. Issues discussed included: Combining Climate Change with the Decent Work Agenda: Annabella Rosemberg from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) spoke by video link on where the debate on Climate Change stands at this time. Basically Annabella told the conference that a massive creation of jobs is the only way of addressing Climate Change. She went on to finish with the message that Climate Change and “Green Jobs” are not problems for individuals but for governments and society as a whole to address. It’ not about winners and losers because at some point we are all going to be losers she said! Colombia: Mariella Kohon (Justice for Colombia UK) and Michael McCaughan (Justice for Colombia Ireland) spoke on the ever deteriorating and harrowing situation for Trade Unionists and their families in Colombia. Basically a new peace process is required but can only succeed by intense international pressure. Activities must include campaign awareness within governments, the trade union movement and the general public, political prisoner release actions, continuing opposition to the proposed EU Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and last but not least the continuing hosing of delegations from Colombia, especially Colombian Trade Unionists. Other issues that were addressed included a report on the Disability Action Abroad project in Tanzania (see report on page 10); A Global perspective on progressive taxation by Paul Sweeney and economist with ICTU and The Robin Hood Tax Campaign Ireland by Mark Conroy which basically means “ if someone makes a financial transaction in a business manner (such as speculating on stocks, shares, derivatives or currencies) the tax payer takes back 0.05% as a “Robin Hood” fee. This money is then used to help the poor, set up social systems, fight climate change, end famine and poverty, help access to education, healthcare and gender equality - in Ireland and abroad.” All in all it was a very worthwhile event!