"The task of defending the environment also belongs to trade union organizations", says Gumercinda Ángeles who is the current Occupational Safety and Health Secretary at SUTFACAP, the Trade Union of Workers of A.W. Faber Castell Peru. She has been working for 23 years at the Faber Castell Factory in Peru. She is 46 years old, is divorced and has a son. She is also the current Gender Equality Secretary at FETRIMAP.
What has been the participation of working women in the struggle for recognition of the union facing the multinational Faber Castell?
My participation, together with the participation of my colleagues of the Trade Union of Workers of A.W. Faber Castell in Peru (SUTFACAP), I consider it was decisive, since women have an important role within the factory representing 50% of the total of workers of there. Within the union, we also have the same equal quantity.
Many of us have been working for more than 20 years with Faber Castell and we always wanted to have a trade union organization that represents us, but it was impossible either because of fear or because of Peruvian laws, which do not support workers freedom of association. Thus, in November 2015, a group of workers created the union with BWI support. I have to say that none of us knew that Faber Castell had an International Framework Agreement with BWI and we did not know that we could use it for that purpose.
Today, we have workers who are assuming management union positions for their very first time. We have been learning every day and I know that we are at the height of any union as we are preparing ourselves in workshops, union meetings and other activities.
What do you think about women incursion into the union, based on your experience as a member of your organization?
In my opinion, I have always said that both men and women have the same right. Today, our union has 125 affiliated women workers. We have three Secretariats in our organization run by women. I occupy the position of Occupational Safety and Health Secretary and in our Federation (FETRIMAP) I hold the position of Gender Equality Secretary.
What particular benefits can your union negotiate in favor of working women of the company?
The women workers have incorporated in our Collective Bargaining Agreement the following benefits:
Place for breastfeeding and the respective permits to do it.
Paid licenses for death of a first-degree relative.
Job training for female workers.
Paid licenses for child sickness with working benefits.
Special work shifts for seniors.
BWI has been promoting union work of Multinational Companies Networks for some years already. What have been the benefits of your union as been part of the Regional Trade Union Network of Faber Castell?
As I told you, we have only one year as a trade union organization and we have had the support of the Faber Castell Network all the time. We have had the solidarity of our brothers from the Trade Union of Faber Castell in Brazil and from the IG Metal Union of Germany, whom together with our Regional Representative Nilton Freitas, participated in November 2016 in the social audit in Lima. That activity brought us benefits to our union. As a result today we have a union place for the attention of our affiliates.
The World Environment Day was in June 5, what should be the commitment of women workers with the environment in Peru?
As a union, we play a fundamental role in the defense of our environment and as women workers, we are aware of the need of more training to defend it. This is why our union organization made the formalities to become part of the FSC Social Chamber on 9 May, 2017, where we will have one more space to contribute to the environment in our country.