ACTIVITY IVITY SHEET 4
Just people like us.... What do we have in common with workers in developing countries? The purpose of this activity is to identify common interests between workers in developing countries with workers in New Zealand. Sometimes it can seem as if our own worries and preoccupations bear little relationship to those of families struggling to make ends meet in poor countries. But in fact, like workers everywhere, these men and women have the same hopes and dreams for themselves and their families as we do. After reading the excerpt over the page, think about and discuss the general connections between the lives of these workers and the lives of workers in New Zealand: • What are the similarities? • What are the differences? How would you use this information creatively to help workers here in New Zealand identify with their colleagues in developing countries. What messages would you emphasise to engage workers here and encourage them to support UnionAid? For extra information: See Fact Sheets 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10 Meena Kadrii
How can we measure wealth? Amartya Sen is a famous Indian economist and writer who argues that the true measure of wealth should be freedom. For him freedom from poverty means not just having a reasonable income, though this obviously is important. But it is also about democracy and being able to take part in community and political life. For this, people in developing countries must be healthy, well fed and literate. This means they need access to adequate food, clean water, health care and education. But for people in developed countries like New Zealand, there may be other barriers to participating in community and political life. What are some of the things that may prevent full participation by adults and children in community and political life in New Zealand? The Indian constitution gave every Indian equality and the right to vote. Other legal protections include the right to a decent living, free education, and the right to practice any religion. But many Dalit (untouchable) and Tribal (indigenous) people have never been to school and don’t know about these legal rights. So NGOs and unions often have to focus on informing people about their legal entitlements and how best to get them. In spite of this, the World Bank has found that very few NGOs in developing countries help the poor challenge those in power like politicians and employers.
PROUD TO BE UNION Union identity cards have stopped police harassment of some Indian cremation workers, according to Allahasami, the Cremation Workers’ Union president. After joining the Tamil Nadu Labour Union (TNLU) these illiterate workers asked for a union membership card. They now carry these ID cards, which they designed themselves, at all times as a safeguard against police intimidation and harassment. For them, the card is not only proof of union membership but a concrete symbol of their new status as human beings. The lives of these workers have changed dramatically. Those in authority now listen to their demands and treat them with dignity. They are no longer beaten or harassed and are now paid a small monthly wage by the village council. They can afford to send their children to school and, like parents everywhere, they hope that education will give their children the choices and opportunities they never had.