The BWI Africa and Middle East Region in partnership with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) held the first training workshop on FSC awareness course for BWI affiliates in Southern Africa. The main objective of the course was to train unions on the role of forest certification as a useful tool for advancing workers' rights and develop strategies around FSC-certified companies. The event was held on 13-15 September 2017.
Participants benefitted from participatory methods in which the principles of the Forest Stewardship Council were introduced. The training included discussions on the governance system of FSC, its approach to environmental problems, unpacking the ten principles of Forest Management, the Chain of Custody certification and Controlled Wood. Participants were encouraged to use the ‘Global Supply Chains’ framework as a lens to understand current trends in forestry, labour challenges and strategize their trade union work.
In regards to Forest Management, a strong emphasis was placed on Principle 2 ‘Workers’ Rights’ as it refers directly to labour and trade union issues. These principles are related to the eight core labour standards promoted by the International Labour Organization. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on how the FSC's own regulations apply to their local contexts. Affiliates raised issues around collective bargaining, freedom of association, gender equality, health and safety at work, forest management, minimum wage according to local legislation, training of workers and conflict resolution to come up with strategies that can transcend national borders. An action plan was developed to help unions participate at national, regional and global levels on FSC processes in order to defend the rights of workers.
Affiliates also visited an FSC-certified forestry operation in the Eston area in the KwaZulu-Natal province. They talked to management and the contractor on issues pertaining FSC, workers’ rights and visited the harvesting and sylviculture operations. It was an opportunity for affiliates to see how forest certification works on the ground and can contribute to their organising strategies in the South African context.
The workshop was attended by CEPPWAWU-South Africa, SINTICIM-Mozambique, SAPWU-Swaziland, GAPWUZ-Zimbabwe, FSC Southern Africa Coordinator Manushka Moodley, BWI Africa and Middle East Regional Representative, Regional Education Officer and BWI Global Project Coordinator. The workshop was facilitated by the international consultant Jeanette Clarke.