Press Release

28th IUF Congress Underscores Persistent Challenges in the World of Work

Published On: Sep 09, 2023

One of the major takeaways coming out of the 28th IUF Congress is that trade unions must respond swiftly to the rapid changes affecting the working population and their families. The IUF Congress took place in Geneva on June 13 – 15 under the theme “Fighting for our Future”. The Congress was convoked one day after the IUF Women’s Conference which was held under the theme “Women’s Voice Shake the World”.

ABWU 1st Vice President, Sis. Hazel Luke, was a delegate at both events. She says the Union’s participation in the Women’s Conference “highlights the need for women all over the globe to become one voice for the same purpose, opening wide the door for unequivocal, uninhibited gender inclusion.”

ABWU 1st Vice President, Sis. Hazel Luke

Luke adds that the Conference emphasized global support for women which she believes should first start within our Unions “by capitalizing on the strength of solidarity in our commonalities for gender parity in the world of work, home, community and state”.

According to statistics revealed at the IUF Conference, 65% of women are represented in the Labour market. This revelation prompted a call for women to enter more leadership roles within their organizations.

The conference also brought attention to discrimination and challenges women in other regions continue to experience. “While in the Caribbean for most parts we can boast Maternity Benefits, Paternity Leave, Sick Leave, (whether for flu or menstrual issues), we were appalled at the level of discrimination meted out to women in Europe, African, Asia, and the Middle East,” Luke shared.

“As unique as it may seem, advocacy for menstrual period/ menopause pay is relevant in the regions where women lose their pay because they are unable to work due to these conditions,” Luke continued.

Sexual harassment in the agricultural sector in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and other regions was cited as a persistent issue that undermines the ability of families to survive.

Meanwhile, Occupational Safety and Health for young workers remains a growing concern as many youths in South America, Asia and Africa find themselves working in dangerous conditions. However, through the power of solidarity, these workers have amplified their call for better working conditions.

The impact of climate change was also at the forefront of discussions. According to the Vice President: “activism remains a key strategy in building solidarity and promoting good governance as a means of protecting the population from coastline damage and ecosystem destruction that result in heat stress diseases, now a phenomenon in the Caribbean Region.”

Agro Food Security was another prominent feature on the agenda. The Conference noted that small states such as ours are particularly vulnerable as we depend almost entirely on the wholesale import of highly chemicalised foods.

Luke says the Conference is encouraging all Unions to advocate for their State leadership to build sustainable food systems that promote decent work.