Trade unions have an crucial role to play in educating workers about HIV/AIDS. Here are some examples from around the world which your trade union can use in the fight against HIV/AIDS and you can mention to the press when asked why trade unions are best poised to educate workers about the prevention of the virus and its devastating effects.
Education International has produced “Teachers Against AIDS”- a leaflet on AIDS prevention to help education staff in battling against the spread of the virus. Distributed widely among leaders amongst all education workers, it encourages open discussion on HIV/AIDS in the classroom.
IFBWW conducted a survey on affiliated trade unions in Africa to identify trade unions which are particularly affected by the virus and highlight priorities for action. It subsequently used the information to develop training material. Four HIV/AIDS workshops were carried out in Africa during 2002, principally to promote the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work.
IUF in Zimbabwe is developing a project which focuses on training women as educators and counsellors on HIV/AIDS to reach as wide a community as possible and spread general awareness about the virus.
ICFTU- AFRO has published an HIV/AIDS training manual for shop stewards, which is available in English and French, supported by the TUCGB. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is assisting in the production of a Portuguese version of the manual.
The Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) runs its HIV/AIDS project in cooperation with the Ghana Employers Association (GEA). With the UNFPA support, there have been attempts to develop a national HIV/AIDS workplace policy, education programmes for trade unions and training for peer educators.
COTU’S (Kenya) Aids Control Council (ACU) coordinated all national activities for World Aids Day December 1, 2002. Letters and memorandums were sent to various union affiliates and employers requesting permission for workers to participate in the programme.
The Dockworkers’ Union of Kenya, in cooperation with management, has long been active in the fight against AIDS. An International Transport Federation (ITF) workshop, sponsored by the Dutch FNV, helped the union get HIV/AIDS related provisions included in its collective bargaining agreement. A ban on the discrimination of HIV/AIDS dockworkers is enshrined in this agreement which also provides for 147 shop stewards to receive HIV/AIDS training, financed by their employers.
In 2003, following ITF recommendations, a doctor agreed to conduct tests at a truck stop in Kigali, Rwanda. Unions have also set up a self-help group and support fund that will assist members with HIV/AIDS, their children andorphans of deceased AIDS victims.
SACTWU (South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union) ran a month-long HIV/AIDS awareness campaign and devoted at least 30 minutes of every constitutional meeting at branch, local, regional and national level to the subject of HIV/AIDS.
In cooperation with the IFJ, the Tanzanian Union of Journalists held a course on HIV/AIDS based on the ILO Code of Practice for its members.
Intercontinental support for combating HIV/AIDS has been a feature of LO Norway’s support of five shop steward training workshops in Uganda.
In cooperation with the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the British TUC and LO-Norway co-sponsored a training workshop for shop stewards in Lusaka, Zambia to train shop stewards on the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
The Zimbabwean Teachers’ Association, ZIMTA, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) project focuses on education, awareness, and prevention focussing on the responsibility of school principals to make their schools low- risk environments. It is developing partnerships with the Ministries of Health and Education, NGOs, and Social Welfare Departments and intends to create an HIV/AIDS hotline at ZIMTA offices throughout the country.
CUT Brazil has created a National Commission on AIDS Prevention. This Commission is formed by civil society organisations and trade unions and promotes safe practices to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. It tries to better the quality of life of workers living with HIV/AIDS and defends their basic rights.
Working with the ITF, the Brazilian São Paulo Subway Workers’ Union campaigned against discrimination affecting workers with the virus. It also demanded that confidentiality should be guaranteed and medical treatment provided. These issues were successfully included in a collective bargaining agreement in 1994.
ICFTU-ORIT’s national consultation stage in the project “Discrimination and exclusion from work as a result of HIV/AIDS in Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic” has been successfully completed. The consultations were based around a number of key themes including discrimination and the respect of human rights.
The Guatemalan health workers’ union ANTRASPG/SNTSG conducted prevention education activities with unionized and non-unionized workers from various sectors including informal economy, health care, and agriculture.
The AFL-CIO and its Solidarity Center’s HIV/AIDS program in South Africa partners with the ICFTU affiliates COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA. The program will soon expand to other countries in the region. Efforts are also underway in Russia, India and with the Caribbean Congress of Labour and ITF to launch a regional workplace initiative on HIV/AIDS.
The ILO is running HIV/AIDS projects in several Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh, offering advisory services on legal reform and policy development, projects on migrant workers, workers’ education programmes, and advice on reform of social security provisions.
In 2001, the Indian INTUC supported the launch of a 14-month HIV/AIDS capacity building program with Indian trade unions in collaboration with NGOs and the business community. The main functions of this program were to develop a three-module training manual on HIV/AIDS, an intensive Training of Trainers (TOT), set up a HIV/AIDS resource centre at INTUC’s headquarters in New Delhi, and to provide relevant multimedia for HIV/AIDS education.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines seeks to ensure that workers rights are respected in line with national legislation such as the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. A number of companies have agreed to support the program by offering workers paid leave to attend HIV/AIDS seminars, by funding education activities and providing company training rooms at no cost.
Global Unions occupational health safety and environment institute in Asia OHSEI is running a three-year HIV/AIDS training project in Thailand which will include using street theatre during lunchtimes to raise awareness of the virus