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Solidarity

Issue Seven, Winter 2012 Contents

Workers in New Zealand helping workers overseas

Page 1 Building democracy in Burma Page 2 Eco-friendly farming in Tamil Nadu Maranui Quiz Night success Sri Lanka success The Newsletter of the Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust

Building Democracy in Burma With the moves towards democracy in Burma the value of UnionAID work there and on the Thai-Burma border is being realised. The UnionAID Young Community Leaders programme which brings six young Burmese leaders to New Zealand each year has been very successful and will next year be doubled to twelve students. In conjunction with Victoria University this programme provides an intensive English language course as well as development studies, international relations and democracy in action. The seventeen alumni from our programme are working in key roles back in Burma or on the Thai border, mainly in community development and youth work, and UnionAID is supporting their work with small field work projects which enables them to build on the skills and knowledge they have gained in New Zealand. This programme, which is supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, is making an important contribution to building the capacity of future leaders in a democratic Burma.

Nandar, 2009 alumni, now works as an economics adviser to the Burmese government

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Page 3 Better wages for migrant workers UnionAID 2012-13 Priorities Page 4 Mae Sot Project ‘impressive’. Auckland Action Group Burmese Food at Moore Wilsons

Karen crafts for sale outside Me Lar refugee camp

You can help vulnerable workers in developing countries in our region get a fairer deal by making a small monthly donation by direct debit by emailing admin@unionaid.org.nz with your contact details. We will then contact you and make the arrangements. Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust is a registered charity - Reg. No.CC42051

unionaid.org.nz


Eco-friendly farming in Tamil Nadu Our project partners, the Tamil Nadu Labour Union, in India have been busy. The 151 marginal farmers who have joined the Agricultural Farming Co-operative have had their soil tested and been given guidance by the local Agriculture Research Department on the production of organic manure and natural pesticides. They are now growing vegetables using environmentally sustainable practices. Only nine months into the economic development project and already 375 women have signed up for the Bamboo Basket Weaving Cooperative. A reliable market through the Palm Board of Tamil Nadu has been identified for bamboo products and orders placed each month for wine bottle covers, hand fans and shopping baskets. This provides a steady income for members. Four micro-enterprises covering 40 workers are also underway for florists, manure preparers, vegetable sellers and rope bracelet makers. These workers are now earning between 150-225 rupees per day ($NZ3.5-5).

Sri Lanka project off to a good start Our new project in Eastern Sri Lanka has got off to an active start with the organisation of workers in the Trendsetters garment factory. The project, organised by our partners the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSE), aims to support and organise women workers in an area which was badly affected by the civil war.

Burmese market in Mae Sot

First quiz night at Maranui Cafe a great success

Ms. Guruvammal is a member of the Bamboo Basket Weavers Cooperative

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Tickets were snapped up for the first UnionAID Quiz night which was held recently at Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay. Organised by Annabel Snow and Jeff Sissons, plates of delicious home cooked snacks prepared by Annabel were regularly provided to each table as participants wrestled with some particularly tricky questions. Over $2700 was raised from entry fees, drink sales and raffles held during the evening thanks to all participants.

Burmese fish monger in Mae Sot

You can help vulnerable workers in developing countries in our region get a fairer deal by making a small monthly donation by direct debit by emailing admin@unionaid.org.nz with your contact details. We will then contact you and make the arrangements. Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust is a registered charity - Reg. No.CC42051

unionaid.org.nz


Better wages for women migrants A recent story from one of our trainees on the Thai-Burma border highlights the very real benefits of the skills training offered by our project there. After completing the two week course one young migrant went to a job in a Bangkok garment factory where her husband was working. She reported back to project staff that, thanks to the skills she learned on the border, she now earns NZ$150 more a month than her unskilled husband! She is now recommending the training to her friends and relatives. Over 350 young mainly female migrants have now been through the course, exceeding our first year target. Of these, all but five (who had family responsibilities) also obtained employment within a month. The Occupational Training Centre was established in Mae Sot by our project

partners, Min Lwin and Htwe Nge, from the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB). While the morning sessions are occupied with sewing training, the afternoons alternate between learning about Thai labour laws and entitlements and basic Thai language and culture. The complex now has two classrooms/workshops, one office, and housing for trainees who live on site during the course. A kitchen for trainees and a four room house for the trainers have also been completed during the year. Due to increased demand, Min Lwin has just reported that the Occupational Training Centre is running double shifts for migrants wanting sewing skills. This is no doubt a reflection of the popularity of the course, the great trainers, and the success rate for landing factory jobs afterwards.

Maung Maung, President of the FTUB, gives the UnionAID study tour an analysis of the situation in Burma .

UnionAID project priorities for 2012-2013

UnionAID has established the following priorities for our project work in 20122013: 1. Working with our project partners to ensure the continued success of current projects: 2. Possible new projects • Union capacity building project(s) in Burma • With the introduction of freedom of association and a trade union registration law in Burma there is the possibility of a new union organising project inside Burma.

Pacific Projects: 1. Recognised Seasonal Employment Scheme. Continue work with Vanuatu Workers Union. CTU is working on this. 2. Samoa private sector union. Possible union organising project if there is a successful launching of a workers advocacy service as agreed at an ILO sponsored workshop in late 2011.

Wanted: workshop in Auckland a very keen

Following a recent UnionAID training

Aucklanders FTUB unionised factory workers in Mae Sot

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action group has been established in Auckland. If you would like to know more contact Karen Newson karenn@nzctu.org.nz

Fundraising plan for 2012-2013 The UnionAID fundraising group met recently and, taking account of its recommendations, it was agreed that the key elements of the 2012-13 plan should be:

Fundraising Target

It was agreed that the fundraising target for 2012-13 is $30,000 to be raised through an i-raffle, film screenings, cook book sales, quiz night (s), and a stronger focus on fundraising activity outside Wellington.

Kiwi Solidarity Programme

With UnionAID achieving IRD donee status (tax credits for donations) from 1 April 2012 there should be a strong promotion to: • Sign people up to direct debits as Kiwi Solidarity Members. • Sign up union officials and staff as KS members by way of payroll deduction under the IRD payroll giving scheme. K.S.P. Target for 2012: Raise contributions to $6000 per month (currently $4400)

You can help vulnerable workers in developing countries in our region get a fairer deal by making a small monthly donation by direct debit by emailing admin@unionaid.org.nz with your contact details. We will then contact you and make the arrangements. Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust is a registered charity - Reg. No.CC42051

unionaid.org.nz


Christine Ross, PSA policy advisor, has been active in the UnionAID action group since it started up a few years ago. She joined the UnionAID study group visit to our occupational skills training centre project on the Thai-Burma border in late February this year. “They are doing really impressive work – the sewing training is teaching women the skills needed to get jobs that will pay reasonable wages; and the trainees are also informed about labour laws, health and safety, and their union rights of bargaining and collectivism”. Many of the trainees are young women who have been sent across the border by their families to escape the terrible poverty in Burma,

worsened by the recent flooding, but they are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked into the sex trade. The garment factories provide one of the few opportunities for paid work. We also met representatives of the women’s organisations that are supporting ethnic minority women who, with their families, have fled the military violence inside the Burmese border states. Several of these young women have been on the Burmese Young Community Leaders programme in New Zealand, and their dedication to making a difference for the women they represent made a deep impression. Christine Ross

Christine Ross and Min Lwin (right) with study tour members learning about the Palaung Women’s Organisation work.

Great Gift Choice: UnionAID Cookbook

Mae Sot project “impressive”

Burmese food at Moore Wilsons If you live in Wellington come along to Moore Wilsons on Saturday 16th June to sample some genuine Burmese food and buy a UnionAID cookbook. From 10am UnionAID volunteers will be running a stall with food to sample from our cookbook recipes. And you can get all the ingredients you need in the shop. But if you live out of town or just can’t make it, don’t forget that our cookbook of delicious recipes from South East Asia and India is still available for purchase for $10 plus postage from our website at unionaid.org.nz

From mid June UnionAID Chair Ross Wilson will be working in Burma with the International Labour Organisation for a year leading a project to help workers (and employers) to exercise the right to organise in unions, restored after fifty years. He will continue to take a close interest in UnionAID and will be on the spot to assess new project opportunities there.

Note:

Thanks to John Maynard, Marty Braithwaite and Chris Gin (flickr.com/photos/chris_gin/2443837648) for the photos in this edition of Solidarity. Check out facebook.com/unionaid for more of Marty and John’s photos from the UnionAID study tour of Burma and Thailand.

Become a Kiwi Solidarity member - Support real change

Yes

I want to become a Kiwi Solidarity Member Name Address Phone Email Please contact me and sign me up as a Kiwi Solidarity Member to make a monthly donation. Signature

Your regular donations mean that UnionAID can guarantee funding to our projects. It only takes a small amount each month to make a real difference to people’s lives. Sign up for monthly donations now. Return the coupon to: UnionAID P O Box 6689, Wellington or email the details above to: admin@unionaid.org.nz

You can help vulnerable workers in developing countries in our region get a fairer deal by making a small monthly donation by direct debit by emailing admin@unionaid.org.nz with your contact details. We will then contact you and make the arrangements. Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust is a registered charity - Reg. No.CC42051

unionaid.org.nz

Solidarity Winter 2012  

The Newsletter of the Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust

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