Africa: BWI trains shop stewards on digital organising

The BWI Africa and Middle East region held a two-day training on digital organising and communication tools for shop stewards employed in Chinese multinational companies (MNCs) in the region. 

The training, which was held on 14-15 October, was supported by the FES Trade Union Competence Centre Sub-Saharan Africa. It was facilitated by trade union expert educator Michael Koen, and supervised by BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng. It gathered 29 participants , representing 15 trade unions from 12 African countries. 

Koen discussed with the participants the different aspects of digital organising and presented its numerous opportunities for trade union organising, as well as its limitations. He said that shop stewards must see digital organising not simply as a means to increase union membership, but also as an added analytical tool to study how various workforces have changed, together with the diverse interests and concerns of workers. 

The training also tackled the power of diverse approaches to complement collective workers’ actions online. Koen explained that trade unions must recognise diverse interests and initiatives to improve their organising efforts.

The distinction between digital organising and online activism was also discussed. The participants were reminded to identify the best digital organising tools that are suitable for their members and their contexts, and develop organising strategies that capably address online organising opportunities and real world, face-to-face initiatives.  

The said training was organised by BWI to help its affiliates in the region respond to new trade union organising challenges that were created by the pandemic. 

Currently, BWI affiliates in the region rely different online tools, such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Zoom to communicate with one another and strengthen its various organising and campaign efforts. #