Trade union rights and women’s rights and their implementation were at the forefront of discussions at a recent workshop held by EI in the Arab region.
Twenty-five participants, representing all nine teacher unions from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Tunisia which are represented on the Education International (EI) Trade Union and Women’s Rights Network (TUWRN), attended this third workshop on trade union and women’s rights in the Arab region, organised by EI and the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation from 17-19 October in Amman, Jordan.
School-related gender-based violence
Participants identified school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) as a serious obstacle to learning and achieving gender equality. They are willing to work closely with EI to enhance their knowledge and receive guidance on the education sector’s response to SRGBV in school and surrounding areas.
In addition, they will join in the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) global campaign calling for a new international Convention on violence against women at the workplace on 30 October. On that date, a series of lobbying activities will be organised at the same time all over the Arab region.
Right to strike at stake
Other issues under discussion were the attacks on workers’ rights by anti-union governments and companies. In Morocco and Tunisia, for example, their governments are undermining the right to strike in national legislation.
National campaigns have been planned to counter attacks on the right to strike, one of the principles of freedom of association as set out in Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
In Morocco, EI member organisations have agreed to continue the joint work protecting trade union rights as a strategic choice, holding the government responsible for undermining social dialogue and collective bargaining and the deterioration of social conditions. They have called all teacher unions and their members to mobilise to fight the attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms.
“The Moroccan union movement has initiated historic unity,” said SNESup/Morocco General Secretary, Abdelkrim Madoun.
Development of strong teacher unions
The training workshop was a contribution to the development of strong, independent, democratic and sustainable teachers’ trade unions, working efficiently to defend and promote their members’ interests and towards achieving quality education for all.
Very interactive and participatory, the workshop focused on exploring ways in which trade unions can build knowledge on how to campaign efficiently and advocate effectively, strengthen networking at regional level and beyond, and reinforce trade union solidarity at national, regional and international levels.
Workshop participants reviewed the implementation of their action plans and identified challenges and obstacles faced by teacher unions in the context of setbacks to trade union rights in the region.
They received training sessions on strategic campaigning to promote quality education for all, to use ILO mechanisms, such as monitoring their respective governments’ reports on ILO core conventions and reports from the Joint ILO-UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and help organise and recruit young members.
EI: Advocating for rights of children and workers
“One of EI’s founding principles is the advocacy of human rights and trade union rights of all education personnel, including the education rights of all children,” said EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst. “EI encourages the ratification and implementation of international conventions on the protection of such rights. Should any national government be found to be violating a treaty that it ratified, EI helps its affiliate to file a complaint at the intergovernmental body concerned.”
EI aims to strengthen the ability of teacher organisations to form and join unions, engage in collective bargaining, and promote equal opportunities for all, she added.
Holst also reminded participants that EI has joined in the Global Working Group on SRGBV launched on 11 October on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.
The background document of the United Nations’ Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI)/EIinitiative “Safe Spaces for Learning: Teachers Take a Lead to Prevent and End SRGBV” can be downloaded here
A news item about the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child in France can also be found here