Members of the UITBB Executive Committee
UITBB affiliated and supporter unions
Helsinki, 26. October 2007
More than one year has passed since the 14th Conference of the UITBB was held in Greece, in September 2006. Time is due for the Executive Committee to be convened. It has been the understanding of the Secretariat that the first Executive Committee would be convened in Venezuela in conformity with the invitation extended by the delegates at the Athens Conference. However, the intensity of revolutionary developments in the Bolivarian Republic is such that our comrades are extremely busy and occupied with their national responsibilities as trade union leaders.
In the light of this situation, the Secretariat has been looking for an alternative venue for the next Executive Committee meeting.
The Secretariat now has the pleasure to inform all members of the EC as well as all affiliated and supporter unions that the next and first meeting of Executive Committee after the 14th Conference will take place in Sao Paolo, Brazil, during the second half of May, most probably 22 – 23 May 2008.
The Executive will be hosted by the Sao Paolo Joiners Union, whose President is comrade Antonio Lopes, member of the UITBB Executive Committee and Secretariat. Invitations and programme will be sent out in due time.
The Secretariat takes this opportunity to give you a brief overview of our activities since the 14th Conference.
The development of our regional activity has been one of the priorities of the Secretariat and good results have been achieved.
The 5th Regional meeting of construction workers’ unions in the Asia-Pacific region took place 22-23 February 2007 in Manila. A broad spectrum of countries and delegates attended. The discussion on the main topic “Migrant Workers” produced excellent papers and contributions; delegates decided to meet again within 18 months time; a resolution to observe a Day of Protest for the protection of guests workers was passed.
This resolution has been implemented: On 28 September, unions in many countries responded to the call launched by the UITBB and organised a series of events (marches, seminars, press statements, etc.) to bring to the attention of public opinion the violations of human and trade union rights of guest workers. This action was supported by leaders of the BWI, who urged their member unions to join in, thus adding to the impact of this international day of action.
The 6th regional meeting is scheduled to take place in New-Zealand upon invitation of a new affiliate of the UITBB, the New Zealand Building Trades Union.
The African Coordinating Committee of the UITBB met 24 – 26 September 2007 in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss the situation of building workers on the African continents, to plan future activities and, in particular to finalise a project to be submitted to the ILO regarding training of Union officials. Seven unions (six countries) attended. It was a successful event – our work is progessing in Africa, albeit slowly.
A Training seminar for building workers of Latin American unions was organised in cooperation with the WFTU regional secretariat for LA, Flemacon and the Cuban Construction Workers’ Union in Cuba, 21-29 of September. The General Secretary of the UITBB José Dinis attended as a lecturer.
The training course was attended by participants from various Latin American countries.
The UITBB and in particular its Latin American affiliates are strongly involved in the work to strengthen class-based trade unions in LA. The Secretariat will take part in the Congress of the new class based central organisation of trade unions in Brazil, during December 2007.
SEMINAR on ASBESTOS
In April 2007, the UITBB Secretariat members and representatives of affiliated unions participated in an International seminar on Asbestos organised by the Finnish Health Front in Helsinki. Among the participants were: trade union delegates, Associations of victims of asbestos, lawyers, representatives of several NGOs, as well as representatives of unions advocating the use of chrysotile asbestos from Brazil, which made the discussion very lively and interesting.
Following the seminar, the Secretariat has received a lot of correspondence among others from the IBAS (International Ban Asbetos Secretariat) in London. One can say that the UITBB is an active internationally recognised protagonist for an International Ban on Asbestos (as stipulated in many resolutions of UITBB meetings, conferences and seminars).
EUROFFICE of the WFTU
The UITBB Secretariat took an active part in the 6th session of the WFTU European Office (ERO), which was held 3 -4 March in Larnaka. It was the occasion to establish new contacts, to exchange information on the development of WFTU and TUI’s activities in Europe.
The UITBB General Secretary will attend the 7th Session of the ERO to be held 23 – 24 November in Barcelona, Spain.
UITBB DELEGATION TO THE 96TH SESSION OF THE ILC
The UITBB Secretariat members took part in the International Labour Conference. President John Sutton spoke at the plenary. The Secretariat had a meeting with the Director of ACTRAV Mr. Dan Kuniah and with Mr. Edmundo Werna to examine UITBB cooperation with the ILO, in particular
around some regional projects and in the field of sectorial activities (Advisory Group for the Construction Industry). The WFTU representative Ms Osiris Oviedo has been very helpful in establishing contacts and in forwarding necessary information. Further measures will be taken to ensure a greater participation of the UITBB in ILO activities.
Participation WFTU Meetings
In addition to UITBB attendance at WFTU European Office meetings, our International has taken part in the WFTU World Conference for Working Women, which took place in Brussels, 12-13 September 2007.
Informal WFTU Presidential Council
On the occasion of the ILC in Geneva, the UITBB Secretariat took part in the Presidential Council meeting and informed comrades of our activities.
Meeting of the Council of Friends of the WFTU
Secretariat members took part in the Council of friends of the WFTU in Geneva.
In general, the presence of secretariat members in Geneva at the time of the ILC made it possible to have many useful bi-lateral exchanges, to establish new contacts and make the UITBB known both to ILO officials and to national unions.
Meeting of the UITBB Interim Women’s Committee
Thanks to the invitation extended by the Cyprus Building Workers’ Union, it has been possible to convene the Women’s Interim Committee, 19-20 October 2007, in Larnaka. Delegates from seven countries attended and drafted recommendations to the UITBB Executive Committee for positive actions in the field of gender equality and working women’s rights.
The Report with the recommendations made by the Interim Women’s Committee is available on the website of the UITBB.
MEETING OF THE SECRETARIAT
The first official meeting of the UITBB Secretariat with the participation of all members (except Yannis Pasoulas) took place in Geneva, in June 2007. Practical arrangements for a successful meeting were made by our supporter union in Geneva.
A second meeting of some members of the Secretariat also took place in April 2007 in Helsinki on the occasion of the Asbestos seminar.
SOLIDARITY AND TRADE UNION RIGHTS
The secretariat and UITBB member unions have participated in numerous solidarity campaigns expressing support for unions and peoples in the Middle-East (e.g. Lebanon, Syria), in Latin America (e.g. Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Peru), against Australian anti-union legislation, and more recently with Korean workers (the case of 4 workers of Lafarge). The UITBB has extended solidarity and support to Unions regardless of national or international affiliation. Also, a number of donations have been made in spite of our moderate resources.
UITBB Newsletter – BULLETIN
2 editions of the Bulletin have been published since the 14th Conference. They have carried information on most of the above mentioned UITBB activities and other topics of interest to our affiliates.
It must be stressed that the feed-back by national unions is still largely insufficient, as is the sending through of short information on strikes, struggles, demands, campaigns, OHS issues, etc.
Considerable efforts have been made to improve the website of the UITBB, which is now updated on a regular basis.
However, it is imperative that Unions share information with the Secretariat on how actively they visit the website and to what extent it helps them in their activity. The Secretariat calls upon affliated and supporter unions to respond regulalry and send material (in particular photos) which can be placed on the website.
Although this matter has been discussed on many occasions at EC meetings, some members of the Executive Committee do not make adequate use of this very convenient and economic means of communication.
VISITS by UITBB President, General Secretary and/or other Secretariat members
UITBB leaders (President, General Secretary, Secretariat members) have attended numerous national and international events and visited a number of countries.
The 14th Conference of the UITBB unanimously adopted a revised version of article V on membership fees making it possible for every union to fullfil its obligations vis-à-vis the UITBB. Unfortunately, fees are paid by a small number of affiliates only and much has to be done to resolve this issue.
We hope this report gives you a good indication of our activity. If you have questions, suggestions or criticisms please do not hesitate to communicate.