By Shermain Bique-Charles
Three union officials from Antigua and Barbuda are among representatives from the region and further afield, who have come together to demand respect, justice and dignity on the job for workers.
General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, David Massiah, along with Deputy General Secretary Chester Hughes, and Senior Industrial Relations Officer Hazel Luke, are currently attending the conference of UNI Americas in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The meeting is also bringing together unions from throughout the region to build an action plan for promoting union growth and fighting against neoliberalism in the sector.
Yesterday, Massiah told Observer that the twin island nation participated in three major aspects of the conference: finance, which represents banks and insurance companies; telecommunications; and the women’s committee.
“We are also analysing all of the challenges and changes following Covid and examining what the new world of work entails, including working from home, so that we can have an idea on how to move forward.
“We are also examining the new trends in the world of work so we can have a better understanding of what exactly we are dealing with,” Massiah explained.
During the meetings, which started on Monday, participants strategised on how to grow membership and union power within multinational companies, and how to help long-term care workers in Latin America and the Caribbean.
They also discussed building national sectoral power to defend and strengthen health systems, and the role of unions in protecting the mental health of healthcare workers.
And they traded best practices for campaigns that pressure governments to fund and maintain social security systems while ensuring liveable wages and decent working conditions.
Conference attendees represented 24 countries and 124 trade union organisations who, according to the organisers, are meeting with a clear aim, which is to build a bold agenda set within Latin America and the Caribbean’s current political transition, that channels workers’ power to strengthen democracy, expand human rights and consolidate social, environmental and economic justice.
At the roundtable to frame the conference, UNI Americas also addressed important achievements and future proposals in the defence of human rights, and the strengthening of democracy, to guarantee the participation of all social actors, including workers and their union representatives.
The organisation of workers, including new sectors on the job and beyond, the strengthening of collective bargaining and the building of unity at the national and international levels, were also discussed.
Other topics included building alliances with progressive governments to magnify workers’ voices and include workers’ interests in processes of change, for example, in reducing poverty and inequality and combating racism and other forms of discrimination.
St Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas are also participating in the conference which ends today.