TUC Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement update

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TUC Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement (SFPA) update

June 2008


This brief covers the key achievements of the TUC's Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement (SFPA) with the Department for International Development (DFID) during its second year (July 2007 to June 2008). These include:

Assisting two union bids to DFID's Development Awareness Fund (DAF) in late 2007 and two union bids to DFID's Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) in 2008;

Training, advising, funding and encouraging UK unions and TUC regions to build partnerships with unions in developing countries and run international development awareness through the SFPA's International Development Learning Fund (IDLF) and mini-grants.

'internationalising' union work through international development education courses and materials and policy engagement with DFID.

The brief also touches on key plans for the final year of the SFPA including:

running pilot programmes with developing country national trade union centres to engage and collaborate with DFID at the country level;

strengthening development education and training through the formation of a trade union development education group, the expansion of online learning and promotion of resources and materials; and

continuing to advise on and fund union activities on international development awareness raising and partnership work.

International development awareness

Two affiliate unions put in DAF bids in November 2007, while two others commenced running IDLF activities to put in DAF bids in 2008 and 2009.

Prospect was successful in its bid to DFID's DAF in April 2008. It will receive £190,000 to enable its members to introduce measures in their workplaces to help people in the developing world achieve fairness and justice. The project will: help members work with employers to develop corporate social responsibility policies linked to achieving the millennium development goals; encourage them to develop practical actions with their employers to support development; and recruit and train a network of development champions to spread best practice within the union.

Unite (the merged Amicus and T&G unions) also put in a bid to the DAF but unfortunately were not successful. Its pilot regional and sectoral international development schools, carried out with IDLF funding and assistance were a great success, educating and engaging hundreds of members throughout the UK in sectors from manufacturing to finance. Overwhelming demand led to the creation of workplace and advanced international schools, with Unite now considering how to meet member interest and build sustainable networks supporting member action on international development.

The NUT have successfully completed their pilot International Development Continuing Professional Development Programme. Twelve pairs of teachers attended a two-day seminar enabling them to enhance their pupil's knowledge, skills and understanding of international development through a range of school-based activities over twelve weeks. The NUT will apply to DFID's Development Awareness Fund in November 2008 to build on this success.

PCS successfully received IDLF funding from the TUC Aid Trustees in March and have begun rolling out their international development awareness programme, advertising for a part-time project worker and setting up their project steering committee. The resources and activities conducted under this grant should give PCS the experience and expertise to put in a bid to DFID's DAF in 2009.

Building partnerships with unions in the developing world.
A key objective of the SFPA is to increase the engagement of UK trade unions with their sister unions in the developing world - a strong emphasis of the second year of the SFPA, with two unions submitting bids to the CSCF and many more commencing preparatory work to do so in the future.
Both the CWU and GMB have recently submitted concept notes to DFID's Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF). Assistance and funding received under the SFPA's International Development Learning Fund (IDLF) has been essential for these unions to build strong relationships with their sister unions, carry out necessary background research and design projects in a participatory way.
The GMB's project proposal with the Mumbai Port Trust Dock and General Employee's Union (MPTDGEU) in India, aims to assist tens of thousands of ship breaking downstream workers who face some of the most dangerous and poorly paid work in the world. If funded by DFID, this project will educate these workers on their rights, provide basic health and education for their communities, and give them the collective confidence to negotiate their way out of poverty and claim their fair share of India's economic growth.

The CWU have recently submitted a concept note, outlining a project with their Philippine sister union to empower women and precarious communications workers throughout the Philippines. The project, if funded, will strongly support DFID's agenda for labour standards and poverty reduction by reaching out to those not traditionally protected by labour institutions. It will aid the Philippines trade union partner with technical assistance and capacity building on gender awareness and organising in the precarious sector, while giving workers the knowledge and confidence to dialogue with employers and the state to improve their living conditions. Full proposals for both projects will be submitted to the CSCF before the end of July 2008.

With IDLF assistance and funding, the NUT and the Sierra Leone Teacher's Union have run their pilot ICT skills course for women teachers. The pilot programme aims to empower women teachers in the classroom, their union and the community. The NUT intends to apply to the CSCF in 2009 to expand the programme

Apart from IDLF funding, the TUC SFPA team advise and support a range of affiliate unions and TUC regions in building partnerships with unions in the developing world including:

The GMB (London Region) recently hosted representatives from two Guyanese agricultural workers' unions in the UK under the SFPA's mini-grant scheme. As well as informing the GMB membership of the development challenges facing Guyanese workers, the parties discussed project ideas, possibly developed with IDLF funding and assistance under the final year of the SFPA.

The TSSA recently met with the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Union (ZARU) on their recent visit to the UK. Productive discussions identified possible areas of collaboration such as ways to prevent the 'politicisation' of employment and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention and discrimination. TSSA intend to apply for IDLF assistance in September 2008.

The UCU may apply for a mini-grant to bring out representatives from their sister tertiary sector union in Zimbabwe. This would be to explore how to assist their sister union operating in an extremely difficult economic and political environment.

The Scottish TUC successfully hosted two Malawian trade unionists to attend their Congress in Inverness in April 2008. Austin Kilimanjira, then Secretary General of the MCTU, and Denis Kalekeni from the Malawi Teachers' Union discussed a range of possible areas the two national centres could work together on, including workplace training and gender awareness. A follow-up needs assessment visit to Malawi is being contemplated.

The TUC is also developing a project with the Nigerian Labour Congress on HIV/AIDs to be submitted to DFID's CSCF in 2008.

To capture this rich experience to date, a seminar on 'Building partnerships with unions in the south' was held at TUC Congress House on 11th April 2008. Some 30 participants representing 20 unions, TUC regions and NGOs, discussed lessons learned in finding a project partner, designing a project and sustaining and building the relationship. Maggie di Maio from DFID's Civil Society Challenge Fund team gave a presentation on how DFID assess applications to the Challenge Fund and participated in a lively discussion on proposal development and partnership building. A summary of the contributions from the day will be published as a short guide.

Strengthening the TUC's international development awareness work

In response to feedback from a range of unions and tutors, the TUC is setting up a development education group of trade unionists and interested NGOs to help share best practice, resources and methodologies on international development education and build a sustainable and active network.

The TUC has updated and consolidated its SFPA work under an 'International Development' page on its website at www.tuc.org.uk/intdev. It contains links to:

Funding opportunities: providing an explanation of the assistance and funding opportunities under the SFPA.

Materials: A consolidated page of international development education materials produced under the SFPA and it's predecessor agreement, including fact files and international development digests.

The TUC and DFID: The TUC's relationship with DFID, including past SFPA updates, and key policy statements on trade unions and labour standards.

Development Education and Training

A second four-day series of the successful IDLF training, to assist with project design and proposal writing concluded in March 2008. Both series of training have provided 26 trade union officers with the skills to engage in DFID's competitive funding processes and simply put, to design better projects. Depending on demand, a third series of the training may be run in the final year of the SFPA.

A two-day introduction to international development tutor and officer training was held in late April 2008. It skilled up participants on how to engage union representatives and address some of the common myths about international development.

A pilot online course titled, 'Going global: online course on trade unions and international development' has commenced with 12 participants signed up. Thes participants are able to progress through this user-friendly and engaging introduction to international development and trade unionism in their own time.

The TUC is also about to publish another 'Fact File' - an education and activities pack for tutors to teach union reps. Titled, 'Fair Play? The global sporting goods industry and workers rights', the Fact File taps into enthusiasm around the Beijing Olympics and the lead up to London 2012 to highlight the poor working conditions in the supply chains of the big brands, and what trade unionist can do about it in their workplaces and as consumers. The TUC has also recently updated its international development digest - a resource guide for trade unionists on international development.

Engaging with DFID's Country Assistance Plans (CAPS)

The final objective of the SFPA is to increase policy engagement between DFID and trade unions. In the developing world, DFID's Country Assistance Plans (CAP) provide the best way for local trade unions to engage with DFID. To aid with such engagement, the TUC will run pilot workshops with national trade union centres in Malawi and Zambia in August to:

assist them to understand and develop submissions to CAP consultations;

identify and explore possible areas of collaboration; and

build the relationship between them and the DFID country offices.

The TUC is in ongoing discussion with unions in Pakistan and Burma, India and Nigeria to offer similar assistance.

Such pilot programmes also aim to generate good practice to be documented and shared around DFID country offices, both as part of DFID's 'How to work with trade unions' staff guide, and as part of a planned video link-up with select DFID country offices later in 2008.

The TUC's relationship with DFID

In the UK this objective of policy engagement is fulfilled through the regular DFID/TUC trade union forums. In addition to this, DFID and the TUC are committed to a series of more detailed policy discussions between officials in the second half of 2008.

On water and sanitation, Unison in conjunction with the TUC are looking at holding a fringe event at this years' TUC Congress with DFID to raise awareness of this neglected Millennium Development Goal. A possible one-day policy seminar later in 2008 is also being discussed.

Climate Change and Development is of critical interest to the TUC. It has set up a working group on the topic, and is keen to explore with DFID ways to ensure that workers and communities support and drive adaptation and mitigation measures in the developing world that in turn provide them with decent work.

The TUC looks forward to continuing discussions with DFID over the progress of the SFPA including the submission of its second annual report after June 2008, and to how to build on their partnership in the future.

For more information

Please contact Ben Moxham, the TUC's SFPA Project Officer (maternity cover) on 020 7467 1233 or by email: [email protected].


The TUC is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Steve Sinnott, the General Secretary of the NUT and international development spokesperson for the TUC. Steve was the trade union co-chair of the DFID/TUC trade union forum and a tireless champion for equality and social justice in the UK and across the developing world. He is sorely missed by all.

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