The BWI Africa Forestry strategy consolidation workshop was held in Johannesburg South Africa from 24 to 26 October 2016 with 18 wood and forestry unions’ representatives from the region and the active participation of FSC southern Africa coordinator and GS Sweden.
Welcome remarks have been given by Mary Nxumalo from CEPPWAWU South Africa who extended warm greeting from BWI South Africa affiliates and explained the challenges faced by the wood and forestry sector in South Africa and in the sub region. Outsourcing, subcontracting, bad health and safety conditions and unfair wages are the common challenges facing workers in the wood and forestry industry in South Africa. These challenges are deeply affecting organizing and negotiating in the sector and the right to join a union is not guaranteed as employers are intimidating and persecuting unions’ members.
Manushka Moodley, FSC coordinator for Southern Africa, expressed the pleasure of FSC to be represented at this workshop that will allow her to share experience with wood and forestry unions and develop tremendous cooperation relation with the BWI. “New National FSC standards aligned with the V5 P&Cs are now being developed and will come into effect on 2017/2018. In this version of FSC standards, Principle 2 is exclusively dedicated to Workers Rights and Employment Conditions and this is a very good platform for wood and forestry workers to demand for better working conditions. Said Manushka while presenting FSC basics and work.
Yngve Daoson from GS Sweden who shared experience on organizing and negotiating of wood and forestry workers’ in Sweden has actively contributed to the success of the workshop.
For Crecentia Mofokeng, Regional Representative of BWI for Africa and Middle East, affiliates need to use innovative unionism and social media to re-invent organizing and negotiating. ‘’The unionism of the 60’s is long over…” she said.
Crecentia also commented on the BWI Africa and Middle East successful Regional Conference held in Mozambique in September with the election of a new regional leadership comprising two vice-presidents of the Region.
Talking about the BWI next Global Congress to be held in Durban South Africa next year end of November and beginning of December, she reminded affiliates to contribute meaningfully as hosts, to come united in Durban. She concluded on the need for affiliates to increase their membership if they need Africa and Middle East voice to be heard.
The three-days workshop recognized the need to revitalize the wood and Forestry sector in Africa and adopted a regional strategy that focused on organizing in MNCs, combating illegal logging and using more and more Forest Certification and Sustainable Forest Management as both policies and tools for organizing and bargaining. Three sub regional networks have been set up for exchange of experience and sharing of CBAs and strategies and a regional network for consolidation of the actions and campaigns in Africa and Middle East in the wood and forestry sectors.
A call has been made for all BWI Africa and Middle East affiliates in the wood and forestry sector to become members of FSC so that the workers voice could be heard in the FSC in Africa and globally.