What happens at the course?
The course covers many different issues so the structure of each day tries to logically link things together. For example the first day starts with a discussion about what global solidarity and equality means to each of the participants and if there is a difference between charity and solidarity. These questions often lead to a fruitful ideological debate. In the afternoon we have invited Colombian trade unionists who first speak about their own lives and experiences as trade unionists. The two speakers we have invited so far have both survived attempts against their lives.
Group discussions in the Global Solidarity course April 2009 From Left: John O'Brien INTO, Alison Gilliland INTO, Conor McKinney CPSU and Keivan Jackson MANDATE. Photo: John Chaney.This shows a completely different reality of engaging in trade union activity. Our Colombian speakers also present the very difficult social and political situation in Colombia and the importance of international solidarity to change things for the better. The participants have often had many personal and political questions for our Colombian representatives in the following discussion. So the first day starts with a lively debate on how to define concepts such as global solidarity - and it end with a concrete example on how important global solidarity is in practice.
Another example is the session that focuses on the international labour standards. The day starts with a presentation of the International Labour Organisation. Currently this presentation is done by Nick Grisewood, who is the Executive Director of the Global March against Child Labour. As many other speakers he uses interactive teaching and engages the participants in dynamic debate. The role and importance of ILO is clarified as well as the problems that ILO has to make the important conventions a reality in the globalised labour market.
The ILO theme is followed up with a session on gender equality from a global solidarity perspective, presented by Congress' Development and Equality Officer David Joyce. This presentation is mixed with several small group discussions on different equality issues to give a better understanding of womens' employment options in the global south which very often are unregulated, unprotected jobs with no rights to social security.
The day's final speakers are currently representatives of the Migrants Right Centre who speak about the domestic workers situation in Ireland. Women from Asia and Africa share their experience of both being isolated and exploited as domestic workers.It emphasises the need for an ILO convention to protect domestic workers rights. The participants are often very shocked by the degree of exploitation these migrant workers have to face. The participants of the training course make evaluations of each day and several proposals have been made on how the training course can improve.
Interactive teaching, dynamic discussions and ideas on how to develop concrete solidarity work are features of each course day. A variety of other important issues are also introduced, for example:
- The urgent need of a trade union engagement for and viable solution to Climate Change. A solution is needed that must include a fight against social injustice, the so called "Just Transition."
- Poverty and exploitation as one of the effects of today's world trade and how the international trade union movement can fight against the power of the transnational corporations and the international financial institutions.
The training course gives an insight to all the main social justice problems in our world, but it also offers explanations and reasons for the existence of these problems. It shows why international trade union solidarity is the key to progressive change.