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TUC SFPA Progress Report

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
DFID/TUC Trade Union Forum

Strategic Framework Partnership Agreement Update

17th March 2008


The TUC's Strategic Framework Partnership Agreement (SFPA) with the Department for International Development (DFID) (2006 - 2009) aims to build the capacity of UK unions to internationalise their agenda.

It does so under the Arrangement's International Development Learning Fund (IDLF), through providing advice, funding and training to affiliate unions to either raise awareness of international development among their members, or to build relationships with sister unions in the South. The SFPA aims to put UK unions in a position to bid for DFID funding. The SFPA also provide a framework for policy engagement between the UK trade union movement and DFID

This update provides an overview of recent activities under the SFPA.

International Development Awareness Work

Unions continue to run a range of international development awareness raising activities for their members, giving them the experience and capacity to be able to bid for funding under DFID's Development Awareness Fund (DAF).

PCS successfully submitted an application to the TUC Aid Trustees - the decision making body for IDLF grants - at its meeting of 10 March 2008. PCs will now commence a programme of international development awareness raising activities. By exploring and piloting ideas among its membership, through seminars, surveys and education materials, they hope to strengthen their capacity and design a more detailed project proposal for DFID's DAF in 2009.

Both Prospect and Unite (Amicus - Section) submitted full proposals to DFID's DAF in November 2007, seeking three years of funding to build sustainable networks educating and empowering their respective memberships on international development. Both applications were able to draw on their IDLF experience in piloting ideas and informing and surveying their memberships on international development, during the first year of the SFPA. DFID will make a decision on the proposals by the end of March 2008.

The NUT successfully held its first pilot teacher training programme on international development, in late 2007, with 12 pairs of teachers participating. The pilot is part of the union's Continuing Professional Development programme. The NUT intends to bid to DFID's Development Awareness Fund in 2008.

Building Relationships with Southern Unions

Under the SFPA, many unions are actively twinning with unions in the south through fact-finding and relationship-building visits. Such background work will provide a strong basis for collaboration and for a project proposal to submit to DFID's Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF).

A CWU delegation visited the Philippines in January 2008, where they travelled to a range of worksites across the country to ascertain the best way to assist their sister union. Building the capacity of the local union to organise in one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade unionist, will be critical to improving the terms and conditions of its workers. A final project design workshop in Manila has been scheduled for the middle of May 2008. The CWU intends to apply to the DFID CSCF in 2008.

A delegation from the NUT visited Sierra Leone in late 2008 to set up the first stages of an ICT skills course for women teachers, run in conjunction with the Sierra Leone Teachers Unions (SLTU). The pilot programme is designed to empower women teachers in the classroom, their union and the community. The NUT intends to apply to the CSCF in 2009.

The GMB sent a three member delegation to Mumbai, India in mid-February to participate in a project design workshop with the Mumbai Port Trust Dock and General Employees Union (MPTDGEU). The union there has been conducting a survey on the working and living conditions of workers in the downstream and allied industries of ship breaking - some of the dirtiest and dangerous industries in the world. The results of the survey greatly assisted the workshop in planning how to best improve the capacity of the union to organise and advocate for such workers. Focusing on health and safety, organising and social protection, the project proposal will be submitted to DFID's CSCF in 2008.

The NASUWT and TSSA are both investigating the possibility of building relationships with unions in the South and may apply to the IDLF in the near future.

The TUC itself is engaged in designing a CSCF project with the Nigerian Labour Congress on HIV/AIDS after running a workshop in Abuja in January 2008. It is also exploring a possible project in Iraq and a possible bid to the Development Awareness Fund in 2008. Additionally, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ACTSA and the TUC continue to work towards a twinning programme between the national centres and affiliates.

Mini-grants / Regions

The Mini-grant scheme under the SFPA enables affiliate unions and TUC regions to either sponsor the visit of a trade unionist or run a development education activity as part of their international development strategy. To date, this scheme has been under-utilised, with many affiliate unions opting instead to undertake more detailed IDLF activities. However, the following regions and affiliate unions have accessed or will access this fund in 2008:

  • Midlands TUC: brought out Assumpta Chikamba from the Central Region of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in mid-March to discuss twinning proposals with the TUC's Midlands region and participate in a range of International Women's Day activities.
  • Northern TUC: are holding an international trade union conference from 17 to 18 March bringing out a range of international trade union guests.
  • Scottish TUC: have organised for two delegates from the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions to attend the STUC's Congress in Inverness in the middle of April 2008 and discuss building on their existing relationship.
  • GMB (London Region): are exploring bringing out two Guyanese trade unionists in the sugar sector in the middle of 2008 to discuss a possible project on health and safety.
  • South West TUC: plan to bring out several guests for the Tolpuddle Martyr's Festival on 1 May 2008.
Development Education and Training

Run in conjunction with BOND, the second 4-day IDLF training course on project design and proposal writing is running from 16th January to the 26th March 2008. The first three sessions had participants from the CWU, GMB, PCS, Prospect, TSSA, TUC and Unite - Amicus Section who engaged in positive group discussion over project and log frame design and proposal writing.

The two-day Introduction to International Development for Officers and Tutors is being held again on 17th and 18th April 2008 at Congress House. The training introduces participants to key issues of international development from a trade union perspective. It also seeks to familiarise them with the resources and training tools to assist their own international development work or teaching.

'Going Global: an online course on trade unions and international development' is currently being advertised and will be launched on 17th April 2008. The course introduces the key issues of international development such as poverty and trade and how workers can tackle problems of international development in their workplace, union and wider community. The course is designed to complement the international development and development education work of affiliate unions.

Finally, a 'Next Steps' seminar on 'Building partnerships with unions in the south' will be held on 11th April 2008 at Congress House. Trade unionists will discuss and share lessons learned with building relationships with sister unions, including identifying appropriate partners, designing sustainable and realistic projects and managing expectations. The seminar will also cover possible funding options and an overview of how DFID assess CSCF applications.

To attend any of the above sessions, or for more information, contact Ben Moxham at 020 7467 1233 or email

The TUC's relationship with DFID

The British trade union movement continues to engage in policy dialogue with the DFID through the DFID/ TUC Forum. The recent DFID/TUC meeting of 4th March 2008, discussed DFID's vision for international development and what role trade unions could play, climate change and Decent Work. It was chaired by Steve Sinnott, the International Development spokesperson for the TUC and NUT General Secretary, with Shahid Malik, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development co-chairing it. The next forum is scheduled for 11th June 2008.

In consultation with DFID, the TUC is currently exploring possible pilot projects with national trade union centres in the South, aiming to assist them with participating in DFID's country-level consultation processes.

For more information

Please contact Ben Moxham, the TUC's SFPA Project Officer on 020 7467 1233 or by email:

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