09 February: the participants completed an “evaluation form” which would be analysed at a later date. The overall response was, however, quite positive. Annie Labaj, CAW, participated via Skype in most of the evaluation on the training.
The objective of the activity was to “build capacities within the unions to run solidarity campaigns, collect and transfer information, and support the unions’ daily work related to the sector.” The participants felt that the objective had been clearly stated from the start, and the activity achieved its objective and will support their unions’ work.
Presentations on Internet aspects and on Occupation Safety and Health were clear and topics had been relevant. They also felt that the time allotted for “tasks” had been adequate, although one participant said that more time could have been used, and, in some cases speed was too fast. The participant said, however, that it was related to his personal level of skill and knowledge of electronic communication. On Occupational Safety and Health, participants recommended that in future activities some specific issues be dealt with such as women issues and gender, personal safety equipment and risks.
Practical arrangements (hotel, transportation) were excellent, and food of good quality and plenty in quantity.
In terms of follow-up activities, all responded positively that they will contribute to the IUF sugar site and The Sugar Worker. A special part of the evaluation was devoted to future work to keep the regional work advancing. Among several recommendations, the participants agreed that they will contribute to ensuring the flow of communication within the region, make efforts to ensure a certain level of continuity in the group, and decided to fix a first Skype meeting for 16 Feb. 2007.
Jasper Goss in his closing statement highly recommended to set achievable goals with the use of the basic Internet tools, such as the use of the IUF Sugar Workers’ Network, Skype, and web-based groups, such as Yahoo Groups. He remarked that videos, new media on the Internet, are a powerful tool in building solidarity links, something the participants had also mentioned during the discussions.
Jesper Nielsen said he had been impressed with the level of energy, motivation and commitment of the participants to trade union work. He said that occupational safety and health is a crucial factor for workers and unions, and, taking the example of the EU sugar reforms, said that many trade unionists in Denmark do not oppose losing some jobs but there should be a great concern if the transfer of production is done to countries where conditions are not safe or healthy for workers. He recommended the participants to revisit the questionnaires on OSH they had sent before the training, and see them under the light of the experience acquired in the training.
Before finishing his closing remarks, Jesper delivered to GAWU a set of recommendations that the participants reached after the visit to the factory of La Bonne Intention (LBI), while the participants said that the process to reach such recommendations is actually an example to follow in their respective countries: background information to prepare a workplace visit, observation and photographic documentation, analysis, discussion, and reaching conclusions. A copy of the IUF/ILO manual on Safety, Health and the Environment was delivered to each of the participants.
Both Jasper and Jesper thanked the invitation to participate in the training, the hospitality of the local unions (GAWU and NAACIE), encouraged the participants to maintain contact with one another, share information and positive experiences, and commit themselves to be available for electronic consultation and sharing of information.
Jorge Chullén underlined that the activity is the result of joint efforts by several organizations, including the IUF global sugar program, the IUF Asia/Pacific regional organization, 3F from Denmark, the CAW from Canada, the Guyanese union GAWU, and the unions in other four Caribbean countries.
Komal Chand and Seepaul Narine, GAWU president and general secretary respectively, gave the closing remarks to the activity. They thanked the opportunity given to host such event, recalled the constant reminders the IUF gave GAWU to start using electronic communication more frequently, and the positive impact this has had for the unions’ work. They also offered a farewell present to the participants on behalf of the union, and then the participants went to GAWU canteen and enjoyed a good lunch.
Visitors to the training were Alexandre Candido Munguambe, from Sintia, Mozambique, who sent greetings to the participants via Skype, and Julio Gongora, Chairman of the Orange Walk Town Branch of the Belize Workers’ Union (BWU), via chat on Messenger shown on the big screen. Julio told the participants about the plans of the union to expand membership into the breweries sector.