12th INTERAMERICAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE
12th INTERAMERICAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE
IAMRECON 2019 HAS STARTED!
By Nayareth Quevedo
Photos: Carlos Verdugo
PSI Inter-American Regional Conference, IAMRECON, began on Monday, June 24. With 435 attendees, the participation of women (48%) and youth (21%) in the Palacio de Aguas, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was highlighted.
Thus, from the United States to Argentina, trade unionists took part in an inaugural event that not only had the presence of important union representatives from the host country, but also a technological deployment, as the application (PSI Events APP), through which delegates can download their documents, express opinions, ask questions to panelists and be informed about the social events that are part of the Conference.
At the inauguration, SGBATOS General Secretary José Luís Lingeri referred to the difficult economic, political and social situation in the Americas, stressing that, with respect to violations of trade union rights, we can “warn about them and continue to fight through the unity of the trade union movement”.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli pointed out that “we are in a time that we can strengthen the region in the perspective of the defense of Quality Public Services, where decent and dignified work is guaranteed. We need the capacity to coordinate our actions,” she said, while thanking the unions in the region for their contribution to facing the debate on a ILO Convention to end violence and harassment in the world of work, which was not easy to achieve due to pressure from governments.
During the afternoon, the Buenos Aires Legislature declared IAMRECON a “public interest” activity, a Solidarity Agreement with Waterlat was signed, and the candidatures to IAMREC were presented.
See the photos of the inauguration of IAMRECON 2019:
THE WINNERS OF THE VIDEO CONTEST HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED!
Photos: Carlos Verdugo
Tuesday, June 25th,, the second day of the PSI Inter-American Regional Conference (IAMRECON) began with the announcement and awarding of the winners of the IAMRECON 2019 Video Contest, which mobilized affiliates in recent months.
The great winner was the National Federation of University Health Services Professionals (FENPRUSS, Chile), with the video "Defending Public Health".
The second place went to the PSI Women's Committee in Chile, with the video "No+AFP", about the harmful consequences of the pension system adopted in this country since the 1980s.
There was a draw in third place. The PSI Women's and Youth Committees in Guatemala presented the video "The Future of Work".
And the Association of Internal Revenue Service (AFIICH) and the National Association of Internal Revenue Officials of Chile (ANEIICH) competed with the video "Que no te pasen gato por liebre", against the tax reform proposed by the Chilean government.
A total of eight videos competed in the contest. They were evaluated by a commission formed by three jurors: Omar Autón, vice president of PSI Interamerica; Luísa Soto, of the Regional Youth Committee; and Marcelo Netto, PSI's Head of Communications. The announcement and award were made by PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli and PSI Interamerica Regional Secretary Jocelio Drummond.
See the winning videos below.
FIRST PLACE - FENPRUSS
SECOND PLACE - PSI WOMEN'S COMMITTEE IN CHILE
THIRD PLACE - PSI WOMEN'S AND YOUTH COMMITTEES IN GUATEMALA
THIRD PLACE - AFIICH AND ANEIICH
REGIONAL ACTIVITY REPORT, REGIONAL PROGRAMME OF ACTION AND OTHER RESOLUTIONS
The Regional Activity Report, the Regional Programme of Action and the other resolutions submitted by the affiliates were presented and discussed in a session chaired by PSI Interamerica Regional Secretary Jocelio Drummond.
The Regional Report was presented in video format, which can be seen below:
Coming soon, information on Session 1 - Quality public services.
SESSION 2 - TRADE UNION RIGHTS
Session 2 of IAMRECON 2019 dealt with trade union rights. PSI Trade Union Rights Officer Camilo Rubiano introduced the session discussing the work of PSI on this issue over the last five years. He explained that Public Services International has organized and participated in international missions with the objective of demanding from the different national authorities an end to the violation of trade union rights in the public sector, carried out solidarity campaigns, carried out training projects and increased their participation in the ILO, the United Nations system and, at the regional level, the Inter-American Human Rights System.
The PSI Subregional Secretary for the Southern Cone, Nayareth Quevedo, then opened the session by reminding us that we are experiencing an strong attack from right-wing governments and that in this context the trade union movement is an essential actor in combating violations of our rights. "There is progress, but the feeling is that we are going backwards". According to her, these attacks constitute fundamental and existential threats to the human rights, dignity and interests of PSI affiliates. They also undermine democracy and the provision of quality public service.
The first panelist to speak was Luis Alpírez Guzmán, General Secretary of the National Workers' Health Union of Guatemala (SNTSG), who shared the scenario of repression and persecution of union leaders in this Central American country based on his own experience. In January 2019, he and SNTSG Organization Secretary Dora Regina Ruano were arrested for negotiating a collective agreement.
According to Alpírez, after the signing of the collective agreement the private sectors acted to destroy collective bargaining. "A collective bargaining agreement in the public sector encourages the few unions to push for negotiations in the private sector," he said.
"The objective is to generate fear, so that leaders who sign collective agreements know that they will be persecuted, prosecuted and imprisoned. The central objective of this strategy is precisely to annihilate us, criminalizing the union leader who raises his voice to maintain his labor conquests and reach new conquests. This objective is very clear."
Sandro Alex de Oliveira Cezar, president of the National Confederation of Social Security Workers of CUT, Brazil (CNTSS), reviewed the social and labor setbacks that have occurred in this country since the deposition of former president Dilma Rousseff in 2016.
According to this union leader, this event opened space for an agenda that could only be implemented in a case of institutional rupture.
"They began to attack the union movement with the approval of the 2017 labor reform, which undermined the financing of the organizations, causing a reduction in many cases of 90% of their income," Cezar said.
Ana María Lizarraga, from the National Federation of Customs and Tax Workers (FENTAT) in Peru, debated the challenge faced by the trade union movement in order to make international agreements on trade union rights visible and promote them in national spheres. She welcomed the recent adoption by the ILO International Labour Conference of Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, a central struggle for PSI in recent years.
For the union leader, trade union organizations should seek strategic alliances with other sectors of society to advance on this point and stop the onslaught of economic power to implement regressive reforms. She highlighted the struggle for the ratification of ILO Convention 151 on collective bargaining and the guarantee of this right as the only way to negotiate with dignity.
"It cannot be said that there is a democratic process in a country that does not ratify the conventions that guarantee labor and union rights," she concluded.
See her presentation here.
The Project Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in Uruguay Álvaro Padrón concluded the panel by talking about the challenges facing the trade union movement today.
"With respect to the current regressive situation, are we responding with ability to reverse? I think so. There is resistance, there is struggle. Is that enough? No. We have to be self-critical and able to think what we lack," he said. For Padrón, however, there is only one global actor capable of facing this situation: the trade union movement. "It is the only one that has scale in the territories."
The director of the FES indicated the need for unions to be more inclusive, with the incorporation of various social groups. "They should be socio-political unions, not corporate ones, that expand their agenda," he concluded.
Watch the IAMRECON Session 2 video here.
GREETINGS FROM JAN WILLEM GOUDRIAAN (EPSU)
Jan Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), greeted on behalf of PSI European affiliates organised in this federation.
He called attention to the growth of right-wing extremism around the world and the central role of trade unions in confronting this threat. In Europe, he said, the trade union movement made progress in fighting the austerity agenda. "More people are convinced of the negative impact of austerity policies on public services, on long-term economic growth and on equality." Further work on tax justice, labour rights and the right to collective bargaining remains to be done, he said.
Goudriann reported that many EPSU affiliates are actively participating in youth strikes for immediate policies against climate change. He added that together with allies of social and environmental organizations, EPSU has argued that it is necessary to go further for climate justice and transformation of the capitalist system.
He concluded by saying that EPSU is committed to fight together with PSI in its main axes of struggle, such as against trade and investment agreements, against the privatization of public services and in defense of women's rights.
Wednesday 26 June began with the presentation “Public Services International’s responses to the rise of corporate power” by PSI Assistant General Secretary Daniel Bertossa. He introduced the four tables of the day, all of them related to the harmful actions of transnational corporations. The panels of this day were supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
Bertossa explained that the settlement among nations after World War II brought a general period of democracy, peace and prosperity. However, the global economic crisis of the 1970s created the opportunity for corporations to undermine this arrangement and recapture the power to rewrite the rules.
This resulted in a massive growth in the concentration of wealth and, consequently, of power. According to Bertossa, if before nations used corporations to project their national power in the world, now states have been captured by corporations, which use them according to their own interests. This has serious consequences, including the ability of states to govern.
“There is no other possible answer than to unite and build strong unions to combat corporate power. We are the first to be attacked. If we fail, the consequences will be catastrophic. Capital is organized across borders. We must do the same.”
Cooming soon, more information on Day 3.
Coming soon, information on Day 4.
The Inter-American Regional Conference of Public Services International has come to an end!
What a fantastic week!
Soon, information about the final day of IAMRECON.