Responding to Climate Change, the global Refugee Crisis and eyewitness accounts from Palestine were among the key issues to feature and be debated in Letterkenny on September 2-3, as delegates gathered for the Eight Annual Global Solidarity Summer School, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The overarching theme for the 2016 Global Solidarity Summer School was GlobalChallenges & Opportunities – Local & Global Responses,which opened on Friday September 2 in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny.
Among the keynote speakers for this year’s event were the Minister of State for International Development, Joe McHugh TD, who delivered the opening address and formally welcomed the Global Solidarity Summer School to Donegal, the first occasion it has been hosted in the county.
More than 7,000 workers will die preparing Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, according to estimates based on Qatar’s own records. Each game will have cost the lives more than 100 workers. If this isn’t stopped will you still want to watch?Qatar’s World Cup is being built on the back of modern slavery. Qatar’s laws mean workers preparing the country to host the tournament are effectively owned by their employers. They are housed in squalid accommodation, go unpaid for months and have to work on lethal construction sites. Worst of all, they can’t leave their jobs, even when their lives are at risk and their contract is torn up and replaced with one offering far less money: employers can trap them in the country, forcing them to put up with terrible treatment and breaching their human rights.
Terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis during 2015 should not blind us to some of the highly significant and positive developments internationally over the year. The year saw two major international agreements that, if fully implemented, could help stem the rise of both and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. The summit in New York to set new sustainable development goals and later in Paris where the historic global agreement on climate change was agreed – all offer hope in an otherwise difficult period. Both agreements have trade union fingerprints on them and have huge significance for trade unions and their members around the world.
Hans Zomer (Dochas), Mags O'Brien (Chair Global Solidarity); Matt Symonds (ITUC) and Niall Tierney (Irish Aid) at Congress BDC 2015
Delegates from Unions North and South attended an event on the Post 2015 development agenda at our recent Biennial Delegate Conference in Ennis. Matt Symonds (ITUC and Hans Zomer (Dochas) addressed the gathering. Unfortunately, Minister Sean Sherlock was unable to attend as planned but his speech was delivered by Niall Tierney of Irish Aid.
This motion on the Post 2015 development agenda was debated during the international section of conference
You can read more about trade unions and the post 2015 development agenda here
Congress is cooperating with unions internationally to urge FIFA’s main sponsors for the Qatar 2022 World Cup ahead of the FIFA congress at the end of this month in Zurich. We’re trying to make the case that the sponsors’ corporate social responsibility policies should apply not just to their supply chains, but also to events they are paying for. If a major sponsor issued a statement of concern it would have a huge effect and embarrass the FIFA leadership ahead of Sepp Blatter’s almost certain re-election.
The email action is here and lets you send a letter to 6 main sponsors
View short film about the problem:
Sharan Burrow wrote a blog post on the issues here:
UPDATE - September 2015: Trade Union Roadmap for Nepal Reconstruction Backed by Government. This followed 2 days of meetings in Nepal, to which the President of Congress, Brian Campfield sent the following message of solidarity:
Decent Work for All and Universal Social Protection
Our letter to the Irish Times on Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals (23 September 2015)The Global Goals were adopted at the Sustainable Development Summit 25 - 27 September 2015 in New York and Trade Union reaction here: "High ambition, poor implementation"Background:In 2015 the Millennium Development Goals will expire and the UN has launched a process of elaborating the post-2015 development framework that will replace the MDGs. The new framework will be a set of sustainable development goals to be agreed in September 2015. The SDGs were first formally referenced at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20). The outcome document of this conference set out that an open working group be established to develop a proposal for a set of SDGs for consideration and appropriate action by the UN General Assembly. In September 2014, the Open Working Group submitted its proposal on the SDGs to the UN General Assembly. In December 2014 the proposal of the Open Working Group was determined by the UN General Assembly to serve as the main basis for integrating SDGs into the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, while recognising that other inputs will also be considered. The Open Working Group proposal constitutes 17 goals and 169 targets. The goals cover a broad range of areas, including ending poverty and hunger, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, reducing inequalities and combatting climate change.Importantly from our perspective, they include, in Goal 8, a specific reference to Decent Work. Trade Unions across the globe have been campaigning for such a reference for a number of years now, coordinated by the ITUC.Following the work of our own Global Solidarity Committee, then Minister Joe Costello agreed that a stand alone goal on decent work was an essential element of any post 2015 development framework.Ireland is playing a key role in this process, following the appointment of our UN Ambassador as co-facilitator (with Kenya) for the final intergovernmental negotiations.A crucial difference with the new proposed sustainable development goals is that they are meant to apply to all countries. “Sustainable Development” is not something that only “developing” countries should do, but that each UN member state should work towards.A draft resolution has now been submitted by the President of the General Assembly for agreement later this month (September 2015)One of the key questions is how the goals be financed.Public funding will remain important for the achievement of the Goals, and there is also much discussion about financing from the private sector. The FfD agenda is an important reference point for discussions on development finance, and serves as a unique space where governments, in particular from the South, are able to debate important issues like trade and foreign direct investment as well as systemic issues like the international financial architecture and financial regulation. These are the global economic issues that were absent in the origin and overall framework of the Millennium Development Goals and remain piecemeal in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework. In July this year, a major conference on financing for sustainable development was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was hoped that concrete agreements on financing the new set of goals would be established at this conference. You can read the trade union position on Financing for Development here and the reaction to the outcome hereIn relation to climate change, Congress has written to relevant Government Ministers regarding the UN Framework Convention and the COP 21 talks in Paris at the end of the year. The ITUC has launched its Frontline Briefing hereMeanwhile, Teacher's Unions are among the membership of the Irish Coalition for Global Campaign for Education who are organising a national conference (24 April) on Sustainable Development Goals in Education. Moira Leydon, ASTI, said that the international community must learn from the lessons of the last 15 years. Despite the ambitious global targets in the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, progress towards achieving education for all has been unacceptably slow. 121 million children – 12% of the global population of this age group – do not attend primary or secondary school. “The root cause of this slow progress has been the failure of the international community to invest in education. International donor aid for education has dropped by 9.5% between 2010 and 2012 while total aid declined by 1.3% over the same period. The case for investment in education is absolutely clear cut: education takes millions out of poverty; each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces infant mortality by 5-10% while a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past age 5. Investing in girls’ education could boost the agricultural output of Sub-Saharan Africa by 25%”. Congress also participated in the ITUC organised Advocacy Seminar on the POST 2015 FRAMEWORK ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT AND MEANS OF IMPLEMENATION, 11-13 May 2015, Cornell Worker Institute, New York, New York. About 40 trade unionists from around the world gathered to agree trade union messages for the processes and to advocate with UN Ambassadors from around the world. Report hereOther Useful links:
UN Sustainable Development Knoweldge Platform here
An urgent need for clarity on FFD and SDGs, by Barry Herman here
EU Council Conclusions May, including Paragraph 14: "Full and productive employment and decent work, including implementation of labour standards guided by, amongst others, ILO conventions and recommendations, are key to addressing inequality and social exclusion. There should be adequate social protection floors and inclusive and equitable development measures should be integrated in relevant socio-economic policies. The right of social partners to freely negotiate and conclude collective agreements is essential. Social dialogue is crucial to strengthen democracy and to enhance transparency. In addition, to combat inequalities national legislation, policies and practices should be inclusive and ensure access to affordable, adequate and quality services and goods without discrimination."
Trocaire briefing paper: States must remain the Primary Duty Bearers in Financing for Development
Universality and Differentiation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda - here
Trade Union reaction to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda here and TUC on outcome of FFD3 in Addis Ababa - here
Civil Society Letter to an Taoiseach regarding an Irish Action Plan on implementing the SDGs - here