36 participants from 18 countries have enrolled in the IFWEA Training of Trainers Course: Digital Tools and Methods for Conducting Online Trade Union Activities. The organisations participating are affiliates of three global Union federations – PSI, IDWF and IndustriALL. The course is facilitated by Saliem Patel, Melanie Julies, Renaldi Prinsloo and Yoshi Quinteros, and is supported by the DGB Bildungswerk. It’s designed to improve membership participation and build stronger unions using digital tools. IFWEA Programme Manager Saliem Patel talks about the course:
What is the Training of Trainers Course about?
The course aims to familiarise trade union educators and grassroots leaders with digital tools and methods to enable effective online trade union activities during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. It’s an interactive course involving both theoretical engagement and skills development. It includes training on how to conduct online meetings, forums, webinars, workshops and study circles. Participants also get to design their own Online Course. There’s a practical component where participants are provided with mentoring, while conducting their own trade union activity.
What is the purpose of the course?
For trade union educators and grassroots leaders to be able to access and use online resources to build regional and global alliances for the regulation and protections of vulnerable informal workers. To promote national and regional platforms of education, self-help and organisation.
Why did you decide to design and run this course?
We were conducting training with various IFWEA affiliates on certain aspect over the past few years; however, after the Covid-19 pandemic began there was huge demand for learning how to conduct online activities from Global Union Federations. We were fortunate to have an engagement with DGB BW (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund Baden-Württemberg) who felt that a well-structured practical course would benefit their Global Union partners to implement various projects, and this is how we came to design it.
Are there particular issues and/or challenges that have come up during the course, that trade union educators/leaders are facing?
The restriction on movement and physical gatherings due to the Covid 19 pandemic has affected trade unions in a big way and the trade union education work that all the participants in the course were involved with came to an end due to this. They have all been struggling to learn on their own how to use various kinds of apps to maintain contact with their constituencies and keep people involved.
Are there common challenges, taken that course members are from all over the globe, or specific challenges?
Having good internet connectivity is a challenge that affects participants from Latin America, Africa and Asia. There is also a problem of electricity cut-offs in various countries. While we can solve this for our participants involved in the course, it is something that we need to take seriously when conducting online activities for members of unions in many countries where internet connection is poor and unreliable.
While the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst in part for this course, do you foresee that online activities such as webinars and study groups will still take place even when conditions change – for practical/economic and other reasons?
This is something that IFWEA has been encourage for ten years. We did not want this to replace physical meetings and activities but felt that it could improve our organisations and also improve the quality of our physical activities. Most of leaders in the Global Unions Federations acknowledge that virtual activities will continue long after the pandemic is over and are investing in improving the digital skills and knowledge of their affiliates throughout the world.
Would you say that you have observed an overall rise in online skills since the start of 2020? And what are the advantages of this?
There has been an immense rise in online skills. There are so many stories of how trade union leaders have learnt to do things online with the help of their children, and I have even witnessed teenagers in workshops showing participants how to activate their cameras and microphones on their phones for workshops. This rise is off a low base and we need to ensure consistent and conscious improvement so that we learn how to use digital tools to begin to create and provide knowledge, rather than being the ones that consume what others have created. There is a need for the labour movement to become more self-reliant and independent in the use of online tools and methods for the purpose of building a global knowledge community.
Watch: Our video on the Training of Trainers course can be seen here