Latin America and the Caribbean: New labour realities require new organising approaches

The BWI Regional Committee in Latin America and the Caribbean held its 16th regional meeting last 23 September concluding its statutory meetings in the region. It called for the strengthening of BWI’s global union strategy to effectively respond to new labour realities as a result of the pandemic. 

The regional meeting, which is part of the many preparations for BWI’s 5th World Congress next year, also discussed and assessed the global union’s numerous activities and engagements in the region. 

In his annual report, BWI Regional Representative Nilton Freitas said that they have implemented 180 training activities which were participated by more than 14,000 workers and union leaders from 118 affiliated organisations in the region. He also said that BWI was able to tap 280 regional publications with a combined readership of more than 200,000 people. All of these were said to be the result of the support extended by affiliated organisations and union cooperation bodies.

The future of BWI was also discussed, primarily on emerging new industry sectors, the need to broaden membership and focus on permanent transformations in the construction, building materials, forestry and wood industries. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Construction Materials proposed a union organising approach that penetrates other subsectors of the construction industry’s value chain in order to touch base to new groups of workers who are not reached by traditional forms of union membership.

Subsequently, a report was presented on the development of BWI’s next strategic plan and its articulation in the TUCA Platform for Development of the Americas (PLADA), whose union’s environmental, economic and political proposals intersects with the approaches proposed by BWI’s 2018-2021 strategic global plan.

BWI RC-LAC President Saúl Méndez Rodríguez ended the meeting by stressing that the regional trade union movement must continue on its work to defend labour rights from neoliberalism. “Apart from the pandemic, the continuing crisis of the neoliberal economic model and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few are existential threats to workers,” he said.