Close to twenty delegates vibrantly and democratically debated over three days the future of our movement (FAWU) and our membership, particularly female members, at an IUF Sugar/ FAWU Gender Workshop held on 20 May 2015 at the Illovo Sezela Mill (in KwaZulu Natal – KZN).
Delegates represented more than 4,800 FAWU members in the sugar sector from the various mills and farms., and FAWU members and the gender structures in other economic sectors organised by our union were interested both in the quality of our deliberations and in the decisions taken.
Delegates confirmed the closing of the Gender Workshop that FAWU will continue acting in a manner that earns the respect and trust of our members and recognise the role and the leadership of women.
One of the abiding strengths of FAWU has always been to be truthful to the members and never to hide our shortcomings or the extent of the challenges we face as women, as well as efforts to improve our work and our standing as the progressive and oldest union. The IUF Sugar/FAWU Gender Workshop was another confirmation of this proud tradition. It also signalled that our work as women workers and FAWU members is far from complete, therefore recommending the strengthening of FAWU Gender structures.
The delegates made the following recommendations:
- All union branches should strive to have Gender structures and in every workplace, both in the factory and farm operations.
- There must be an ongoing programme for training, education and sensitisation on Gender Issues in the sugar sector, in coordination with the FAWU Education and Gender departments, and with government agencies, including the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA). Delegates recommended specifically that FAWU should prioritize the training of officials and leaders at Harden Heights, a cane farming operation in the Dalton area.
- Specific Gender-related demands have to be included in the sector negotiations and a workplace level.
- FAWU must strive for a full integration of all female workers, the young and the old.
- Workplaces have to introduce clear procedures to prevent Sexual Harassment and to promptly resolve complains.
(Collaboration by Nelisiwe Nxumalo, FAWU-Sezela)