Three reports that explore trade union responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including feedback on digital communication systems, online education, and the use of websites and online applications to build digital solidarity, have been released. Facilitated by IFWEA and regional representatives from the worker education and NGO sector, the reports cover Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each report is based on extensive interviews with Global Union Federation (GUF) representatives and affiliate organisations.
Covid-19 has disrupted the world of work and presents the trade union movement with immense challenges. It has not only exposed the vulnerability of workers, but also the ability of the trade union movement to represent and organise workers when traditional interactions are not feasible.
Restricted movement, social and physical distancing, and minimal face-to-face interaction, have disrupted trade union work at global and local levels. The first few months of 2020 saw an accelerated learning process involving digital communication tools used to adapt to the new situation and to continue union work. This process not only presented its own unique challenges but also revealed unexpected benefits.
Different levels of internet infrastructure, uneven digital capacity, and limited access to resources such as smartphones, laptops, and data are issues that have been identified. At the same time, the ability to reach a wider constituency, savings in travel and accommodation costs which can be channeled into training or data sharing, and empowering workers with new tools are positive consequences. The studies also contribute to identifying and/or developing online tools and formats that can effectively contribute to building cross-border solidarity, as well as engaging and empowering workers at the local/shop floor level.
The reports are:
Online Trade Union Responses to the COVID-19 Health Emergency and its Effects: Building solidarity in the Americas (March 2021) – Programa Laboral de Desarrollo (PLADES) and IFWEA
Asia: Mapping of Trade Unions’ Use of Digital Communication and Education Tools: When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic (March 2021) – Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Asia, Class Nepal, and IFWEA
Emergency Online Solutions to the COVID-19 Pandemic for African Trade Unions: A report based on interviews with five Africa GUF General Secretaries (March 2021) – Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub-Saharan Africa (FES TUCC) and IFWEA