The Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Industria do Açúcar (SINTIA) from Mozambique shared with the IUF global sugar program its comments on their country’s Sugar Action Plan, which will be submitted to the European Union, as part of the “accompanying measures” to the EU sugar reforms.
The drafting of the “action plans” is repeated in all African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries exporting sugar under the EU/ACP Sugar Protocol, and, even though the EU requires these plans to be drafted with the participation of all “stakeholders,” several unions have been marginalised from the process or given limited opportunities to participate in it. The initiative of SINTIA to share their comments may encourage a much-needed discussion about the nature of the so-called “accompanying measures,” and the role and participation of the unions in the planning, decision-making, implementation and evaluation of the Sugar Action Plans. The IUF global sugar provided SINTIA with some comments to the draft of the Mozambican Sugar Action Plan.
Unions and the IUF have to remember that, even when the Sugar Action Plans are to be submitted by April 2006, the process of “adjustment” will run until 2013; that’s enough time for any plan (except those cast in stone) to be reformulated, to become open and transparent, and to reflect the needs of the people involved in the cane and sugar sector.
The SINTIA document is available in Portuguese here. The following are some highlights from it.
1- SINTIA proposes that professional education for Mozambican nationals to prepare them to work in the sugar sector, as a priority for the development of the sector. SINTIA stresses the need for the union to have an “effective participation at the decision and implementation levels.”
2- Given the presence of independent cane farmers, in many cases with foreigners farmers, SINTIA believes that the Mozambican farmers should be encouraged by creating productive capacities, which would support income redistribution and the development of other areas, such as food production. The government should encourage education programs related to agriculture among the youth.
3- HIV/AIDS and Malaria: the strategy should integrate health care facilities to support workers and communities at large, should launch education campaigns and facilitate medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS.
4- SINTIA underlines that the strategy ought to propose clear development strategies for the communities around the sugar factories, which the strategy mentions but does not develop, and programs to educate and train local people.
5- On Decent Jobs: “Decent job is a condition for the long-term viability of the sugar sector, and other economic activities (proposed) in the strategy,” says SINTIA. For example, decent job would mean eliminating job insecurity, such as the seasonality in the job (NB: casual labour). In the present Strategy (the sugar action plan), of the total 26,000 (sugar) workers, 61% they are seasonal, which in itself does not make the sugar sector viable. How do we overcome this predicament? asks SINTIA.