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Global Unions meet in Geneva and Johannesburg to discuss cooperation

Education International represents teachers unions worldwide and, as such, is one of the sectoral global unions confronted with the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Clearly many other trade union organisations from other sectors also face the impact of the pandemic. Just as the teachers represented by EI, also the miners, the truck drivers, nurses and agricultural workers belong to an international labour structure, the Global Union Federations or GUFs.

These GUFs and the newly formed International Trade Union Conference (ITUC) have gotten together to develop a joint approach to fighting AIDS on behalf of all workers. Early last month, the GUFs working on HIV and AIDS met in Johannesburg to discuss plans for future cooperation on the African continent. The two day meeting which took place from 8-9 March set out to establish what programmes already exist, to identify potential for cooperation between each of the GUFs on programmes at the national and regional levels and to establish where needs still exist. Likewise on April 3-4, the GUFs met in Geneva to assess the progress made at the global level. These meetings produced some concrete output including a summary document of all of the HIV/AIDS related programmes currently being implemented by GUFs and their members. It was furthermore concluded that interaction between the different Global Union Federations on HIV and AIDS programmes needs to be improved upon. Part of the reason for the lack of coordination hitherto is the existence of certain sectoral and methodological differences. The participants recommended that - at the very least - the distribution of information and best practice among the GUFs and between the GUFs and their national and regional organisations should be stepped up. In this regard, the idea of a database featuring information on each of the programmes was reviewed. Finally, the participants raised a number of issues where action needs to be taken including the integration of children infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS into schools and the need for greater political will at the level of the Global Unions and the state. For more information, please contact us at efaids@ei-ie.org.

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