URGENT APPEAL: solidarity with Arab trade unions

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Solidarity with Arab trade unions

TUC Aid MENA appeal

March 2011

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has launched an International Urgency Solidarity Fund to support independent trade unions in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, where democracy is spreading like wild fire, and unions are playing a key role. Donate directly online to the TUC Aid MENA appeal, or get your union to send a cheque (made out to TUC Aid MENA appeal) to the TUC.

Trade unions in Tunisia led the street demonstrations this January which led to the downfall of the regime. In Egypt strikes across the country led to the replacement of President Mubarak and the creation of new, independent unions. In Bahrain, trade unions joined the protests for democratic reform. Across the region, trade unionists are demanding decent work - good jobs at fair wages, rights and democracy, and we can help.

TUC Aid's immediate appeal aims to raise £15,000 by the end of March as the UK contribution to a global ITUC appeal for emergency funds. The money will be used to assist trade unions anywhere in the MENA region, and to lay the foundations for longer term work which will need more serious project planning.

If we reach our target, any extra funds will be used to support the ITUC's medium-term strategy, especially for funding work in Tunisia and Egypt (more details below), over the two years 2011-2012. The TUC will relaunch our appeal to support that medium-term strategy in April, seeking union and individual contributions, and money from other sources such as the FCO and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; identifying in-kind assistance from other parts of the TUC and unions; encouraging UK MNEs which recognise our affiliates to assist unions in the MENA region; and developing supply chain strategies to build union-friendly relations in the MENA private sector.

The UGTT in Tunisia need our help to:

  • set up a special unit to organise all the new members they're getting, who are joining willy-nilly and need integrating with their existing structures;
  • create a call centre to respond to specific workplace problems people report;
  • establish a national observatory on the work situation to back up their demands;
  • ICT training for officials so that they can stay in contact with the street; and
  • Assistance to turn their weekly newspaper into a daily.

In Egypt, where most of the independent unions are new, the ITUC plans to open an ITUC office in Cairo, initially for a couple of years, providing the new unions with:

  • advice on labour legislation and union rule books;
  • communication capacity building;
  • organisational support; and
  • building capacity (training of trainers, trade union management, shop stewards etc).
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