CSQ's cooperation strategy: The Francophonie and Latin America as key priorities

published 1 December 2021 updated 16 December 2021

The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) answers questions about their development cooperation work, which started in the 1970s in Nicaragua.

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

The CSQ has been involved in development cooperation since the 1970s. Our first activity was in Nicaragua, and later, they extended to French-speaking Africa, Haiti and other Latin American countries. We have developed multiple partnerships in these regions, mainly with trade union organisations in the education sector.

From the start, two main priority areas for activity were identified by the 1982 Congress, the Francophonie and Latin America, became the privileged focuses of our cooperation activities. These two axes still structure our programming.

At the same time, we have also seen the deployment and strengthening of bilateral international ties with many foreign trade union partners. Several cooperation projects in the South have been, or continue to be, carried out in collaboration with certain partners in the North.

The scope of the CSQ's programming has varied over the years, the collaboration of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and its related funding was available for thirty-one years, that is to say until the Conservative government of Canada ended it in 2011.

Therefore, in 2012, we had to update the cooperation aspect of our international action. Several questions were then raised regarding the objectives we were pursuing through this type of activity, as well as effective ways to implement them. As the needs grow and the requests for assistance are almost limitless, our resources are now more modest, given the disengagement of our main funder, CIDA.

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

The CSQ has the Union, Social and International Solidarity Fund to finance projects, but it is often necessary to consider financing from outside the CSQ. Two avenues are possible to obtain such funding:

  1. Involve other trade unions from the North in the financing of projects.
  2. Obtain funding from the governments of Quebec or Canada, by filing a joint request with an international cooperation organisation.

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

Two main areas of activity were selected by the CSQ, namely La Francophonie and Latin America became priority and privileged channels of our cooperation activities. These two axes still structure our programming.

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

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

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

Our international action aims to increase the adhesion and commitment of affiliates and members to solidarity and development cooperation.

Thus, the social networks, the website and the media of the CSQ are all means of making our international activities known.

For example, we have produced videos on cooperation projects that have been presented at General Councils or general assemblies of federations affiliated to the CSQ.

Finally, participating in internships with the International Center for Workers' Solidarity that provide opportunities to work in development to people from the ranks of the CSQ's affiliates is an excellent way to increase the adherence and commitment of affiliates and members to the place of solidarity and development cooperation.

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

There are several, here are three:

  1. Development of an environmental education program in Burkina Faso and Niger, and a network of green schools planting trees and vegetable gardens for school canteens;
  2. The development of a programme for schools as Instrument of Peace in Colombia;
  3. The development of study circles in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Niger.

5. What is most difficult about international cooperation work?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the work of international cooperation much more difficult. Travel abroad is limited, making it difficult to report and verify the achievement of project objectives.