On 11 July 2017, the first Forest Certification Webinar was held by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to representatives of forestry organizations affiliated to BWI in Latin America and the Caribbean. BWI, which groups forestry and wood industry organizations, has eight organizations affiliated to FSC in the region. Those organizations see the forest certification as a useful tool for the defense of workers' rights.
In the experience of virtual training, the innovative FSC platform was used allowing to connect directly and simultaneously 13 union leaders, BWI and workers from Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Panama. Groups formed by three people connected through the same terminal in a virtual classroom version, allowed the participation of more workers; as it was the case of SINTRAPIZANO in Barranquilla and SINTRATABLEMAC in Yarumal and Medellín, Colombia.
The workshop began with a brief introduction on the Forest Stewardship Council, its foundation in 1993 after Rio + 20, its structure and functioning and what it represents for the organizations that start their life in the Social Chamber of the certification firm. The workshop also included the explanation of the entire system proposed by FSC in response to environmental problems, forest management, chain of custody certification and controlled wood certification.
Also, the principles of FSC certification process was explained, based on ten principles and criteria that refer directly to labour and/or trade union issues. All these principles are also related to the eight labour standards promoted by the International Labor Organization. Within the FSC's own regulations, issues such as collective bargaining, freedom of association, gender equality, health and safety at work, forest management, minimum wage according to local legislation, training workers and conflict resolution in a balanced way between parties aimed to not harm the normal and natural life of workers and their environment.
For the culmination of this innovative Webinar experience, a round of questions and answers was held where participants were able to clarify topics related to certification and audit reports. There was also a highlight on the importance of trade union organizations to become part of the auditors’ bodies and intervene in the processes of granting certification to companies.
A greater participation of union leaders was requested in all processes of revision of companies’ forest management, where workers are included. Another point was about companies that are not certified working indiscriminately and exploiting the forest workforce and receiving benefits from carbon credits. Finally, information was requested on companies that are in the process of certification in Colombia. Colombian trade unions in this sector have expressed their interest in linking to these processes to verify and contribute from the workers’ perspective.