Interview with Rosmery Caballero from SINTRAPIZANO Colombia

08 March 2017 10:42

Rosmery Caballero has been working at Muebles Pizano S.A. for 10 years in the plant of Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. She has always belonged to the union SINTRAPIZANO. She started as an industrial mechanic operator until she learned how to handle the new software maintenance of technology machines acquired by the company while she was a leader in the plant and coordinated some processes.

She has held many positions, even in other plants, replacing her colleagues on leave or holidays. This is how she has achieved more experience. She is married and has two daughters, one of 8 years old and another of twenty. Rosmery also studies the sixth semester of Industrial Engineering at a local University. 

When, how and why did you decide to be part of a union?

Since I was young, I always wanted to be part of an organization that generated changes and achieves improvements for its members. The closest I was at that moment, since I did not belong to any company yet, was to be a student representative in the National Service of Learning (SENA). The most important thing that I learned was to develop my leadership spirit through social work. This is a feeling that motivates you to support your colleagues and seek improvements for all. 

When I started working with the company Pizano S.A., I discovered that there was a trade union with good relations with the company. That really motivated me and encouraged me to be part of the union. That was that moment when I made the purpose to be part of the union not only as a member but also as a union leader, and to continue the work they have been doing. 

What do you think is the importance of youth union training for all who are starting to be part of a union?

Trade union training is fundamental for young people who begin to be part of a union, so they can start to develop a sense of belonging to this work and be truly participatory in the union exercise, making significant contributions that help to grow and strengthen the union organization.

It is worth to mention the participation of the Intergremial of Construction Workers in Colombia in my training process. It would be excellent if they give that same opportunity to other union leaders to complete leadership trainings that they provided us. 

What are the organizational strategies that SINTRAPIZANO uses to approach and affiliate new members?

In general, my union uses methods of affiliation such as personalized advice on the issue of trade unionism by publicizing its advantages as well as the use of social networks and advertising. However, the most effective strategy for my trade union organization is its exemplary work. The work of its leaders is so exemplary and organized that practically workers desire to be part of it. This is how as soon as new workers begin to work with the company; they are part of the union. 

Do you consider that union training is differently perceived in terms of masculinity and femininity?

At this time, it is sad to say that in the union movement there is a certain male chauvinism in some organizations. However, as it happened with other work done in the past only by men, it depends on us (women) to demonstrate how capable we are to have the same responsibilities as men. It depends on how much knowledge and commitment we achieve as union leaders. 

In what way and what measures do you think can be used to improve union work in the region?

In my opinion, the best way is to give training to young people from secondary education so that taboos on trade unionism are eradicated. This will be the only way that we could manage to be as developed countries, where levels of trade unionism are high and the image of unions in front of society is completely different from the one in the region where I live in, where a union leader is considered part of the "guerrilla". With the real knowledge of what it means to be a union leader, a representative of workers, everyone will be able to understand that we only seek for better quality of life not only for workers but for their family too.