Global Solidarity Summer School in Waterford
Issued on September 15, 2009 at 04:42 PM
Minister Peter Power at the opening of the Summer School
70 trade unionists from the north and south of Ireland attended the Global Solidarity Summer School in Waterford on the 28th and 29th of August.
The Summer School was opened by the Assistant General Secretary Sally Anne Kinahan. In her speech she emphasized that "Congress continues to play a leading role campaigning in support of the UN-recommended 0.7% of Gross National Income to be given as aid and sought to ensure the Government's commitment to reach this target by 2012 was reflected in Towards 2016".
The Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power,T.D, who took part in the opening of the Summer School, used this opportunity to commit funding of €3 million to combat child labour, human trafficking and debt bondage in the developing world. The funding, which will be channelled through the International Labour Organisation (ILO), will also be used to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities and is part of a three year programme of cooperation with the ILO (see statement)
David Joyce, Equality and Development Officer in ICTU, introduced the first session on Lesotho, a country that he visited on behalf of ICTU two years ago (see power point presentation). The General Secretary of the Lesotho Congress of Democratic Unions (LECODU), Elliot Ramochela, informed the participants about the ICTU/Irish Aid funded trade union capacity building project aimed at strengthening the HIV/AIDS information. The project is crucial in a country where 24% of the population is HIV-positive and where more than 300.000 children are orphans due to the epidemic. Elliot Ramochela said that he was "Grateful, beyond expression, to the Irish Government and Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) who, despite experiencing economic hardships, through this project is rescuing embattled and marginalized workers of Lesotho and their families".
Niamh Garvey, climate change expert in Trocaire, and Asbjorn Wahl, a Norwegian trade unionist with a red-green agenda, introduced the theme "Climate Change and the Trade Union movement". Niamh highlighted the situation in the Global south (her power point presentation will be available here soon), while Asbjorn Wahl focused on the immediate need for a trade union engagement with this issue (see power point presentation).
The next session's topic was "Trafficking and Forced Labour". The International Trade Union Confederation's coordinator of the Global Campaign against trafficking, Jeroen Beinaert presented basic facts on trafficking and ITUC's work against it (see power point presentation). The Executive Director of the Immigrant's Council of Ireland (ICI), Denise Charlton introduced their report on sex trafficking to Ireland. She said that she wanted to open a dialogue with Congress on this issue to find ways to end this extreme exploitation of women (see power point presentation).
Friday night the Summer School celebrated Waterford Council of Trade Unions' centenary with a nice dinner. Tommy Hogan, President of Council of Trade Unions, gave a much appreciated speech. The participants were also entertained by a fantastic African Church Choir, an African Dance group and a saxophonist from Moldova.
Steve Benedict, Responsible for the International Trade Union Confederation's Human and Trade Union Rights Department opened the Saturday mornings session with a presentation on the international work for Human and Trade Union Rights (see power point presentation).
The final session's theme was "Global recession and tax havens" Prionnsias Breathnach, senior lecturer in Economic Geography (NUI Maynooth) gave a very interesting presentation of the real reasons for the crisis. A crisis formed by greed and casino capitalism (see presentation). Nessa Ni Chasaide from the Debt and Development Coalition highlighted the extreme problem for the global south with transnational corporation's tax evasion and the existence of tax havens (see power point presentation).
Summer School 2010?
The general evaluation of the Summer School was very positive and several participants asked ICTU Global Solidarity to organise a new Summer School next year.