Rocío Campana Campos from PLADES (Programa Laboral de Desarrollo) in Peru writes about her experience with IFWEA Study Circles:
I am currently in charge of the Coordination and Facilitation of IFWEA Study Circles in Peru, executed by PLADES (Programa Laboral de Desarrollo). Since 2020, the study circle on the ILO’s Convention on Violence and Workplace Harassment (C190) has been developing. Currently we are in the fourth year of the study circle. Since 2022 we have facilitated our other study circle on Migrant Workers’ Rights.
I think it is appropriate to mention that the experience of Study Circles is not a new experience for PLADES. More than two decades ago I was a participant in the Study Circle on Globalization and its impact on the world of work. Afterwards I assumed the challenge of being a facilitator, moderator and designer of study circles for different organizations in Peru and other countries. This has been a very enriching experience and has included a gender approach in the content.
Therefore, I think it is fantastic that IFWEA has the programme Study Circles for Social Change because it has a facilitator team that creates and recreates the content, validates the methodology that is applied and collects the needs of the group to guarantee democratic participation.
An opportunity in the midst of the pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic the Study Circles were an excellent alternative to maintaining links and exchanges with comrades of various organisations in the food, textile and clothing sectors, laboratories, domestic workers, local government and the Departmental Federation of Workers of Arequipa (FDTA-CGTP). Informing, sensitising and the deepening of issues took place in the Study Circles. In the case of the Study Circle on migrants, Latina women workers from Argentina, the United States, Japan and from areas of the interior of Peru participated.
The Study Circle was also a space for meeting, exchange and accompaniment of comrades to get to know the labour reality of different sectors and the concerns, challenges and actions unions developed for their empowerment. This happened in a climate of trust, where study circle members also shared their personal and family experiences.
The sessions and activities were held virtually, on a biweekly basis. The dates and times of the sessions were agreed upon with the participants. In 2022, with the return to face-to-face work, work shifts had to be taken into account, so as not to coincide with the times of the Study Circles. When someone had a work shift and did not attend the Study Circles, they were able to meet and work on that session with the facilitator.
Participants felt that working with zoom on their cell phones was suitable. The facilitator introduced the OLA platform and motivated participants to use the platform. Many participants carried out their activities on the platform and sent it to IFWEA.
Not everyone had the experience of the use of technology as it applied to an online training process. IFWEA provided training and some participants received support from their children. We had a case where two adolescents participated in the Circle and were interested in the subject.
Know to act
The Study Circle creates an environment for situations of violence and harassment at work and the rights of migrant workers to be reviewed critically and for participants to identify labour practices that do not provide protection and are not safe or free from every type of violence. Understanding what violence is – is important if you want to act.
Another important aspect has been to address the importance of ILO International Conventions and join the campaigns for their ratification. The Circle worked on how these mechanisms work and what they are for, what actions can contribute to the objective of the convention and what type of advocacy is required.
Advocacy is a very important issue. Information was provided and applied in a practical way through the development of participatory audiovisual material. Participants themselves were involved in the collection of inputs and testimonies. A Forum was held in Arequipa, inviting local authorities to commit to the implementation of Convention 190 which has been ratified in Peru.
The Study Circle has contributed to the understanding and application of national standards against violence and harassment at work and the constitution and operation of the Committees for the Prevention of Workplace Harassment which is a legal obligation that employers must fulfill. The Study Circle has also provided participants with the support to be able to provide emotional accompaniment to victims of workplace harassment.
Beyond the border
In Latin America, in addition to Peru, Circles are held in Bolivia and Venezuela – the Facilitator group keeps in contact with the Circles. First, we promoted virtual visits where each country participated in one of the sessions of the Circle. Then visits and exchanges were carried out. This permitted participants to meet and exchange strategies for the prevention of workplace harassment.
In 2021, an international virtual event was held where participants themselves shared their experiences and the reality of workplace harassment in their counties. It was very well received and contributed to raising awareness and a feeling of being part of a regional and global commitment.
The Study Circle is a real experience of democratising knowledge; of fostering critical thinking for transformative actions for a dignified, safe life, without discrimination, without violence and with equal opportunities. I believe that the challenge is to multiply the Circles for which we must continue to develop capacities for Facilitation; IFWEA is going in that direction.