SNES-FSU France: Supporting unions who are struggling because of political or economic circumstances

published 1 December 2021 updated 3 March 2022

SNES-FSU France has been using its own funds for several decades to help unions - mostly French-speaking - to become stronger.

1. When and how did your organisation decide to get involved in international cooperation?

Since time immemorial ... in the 1980s I believe, but maybe already before.

Is there a mechanism in your trade union to devote part of syndicate's union funds to international cooperation?

Yes, a long-standing SNES mandate has set the cooperation budget at 1 percent of the total amount of membership fees. Thus, each member knows that he or she participates up to 1 percent in the financing of trade union cooperation actions.

2. What are the priorities of your trade union in international cooperation work?

Prioritising aid to trade unions in difficulty for political (trade union rights not respected) or economic reasons ("Southern" unions who are struggling to collect membership fees)

3. What do international cooperation projects bring to your trade union?

They provide fruitful exchanges of information on the partner country that we often reuse in our publications, not to mention the human warmth of our partners. They can also, in the case of partner unions from the "North" which have more or less the same teaching conditions, make it possible to share approaches on recent education themes (inclusion, digitisation).

How do you reinvest in your trade union the work of international cooperation?

This is our weak point right now, but we will try to work on it.

Does your trade union's international cooperation work have an aspect that your members are sensitive to?

This varies quite a bit depending on the partner countries and current situations, but as a general rule, for cultural reasons, our members are sensitive to French-speaking areas, particularly in the Sahel and Haiti.

4. Do you have concrete examples of successes made possible by a cooperation project?

We believe that we have contributed to the strengthening of SET (Chad) through financial aid, exchanges and constant encouragement for the publication and dissemination of its publications. We currently have hopes for the fairly new theme of occupational health (cooperation with the STEB of Burundi and, perhaps, with a Beninese union).

5. What is most difficult about international cooperation work?

Knowing the reality of the fieldwork done by our partner and its real audience, especially during a pandemic.

6. What advice would you give to a trade union wishing to get involved in international cooperation?

Have a common language and go into the field.