Solidarity with Nicaragua

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2013 National Delegate Conference
18 February 2013

UNISON notes the long standing friendship between UNISON and UNE, the Nicaraguan Public Service Trade Union, and the strengthening of that relationship in recent years. It also applauds the progress made by the Sandinista government since being elected in 2007 towards social and economic justice in Nicaragua. In the present harsh climate for trade unions in the UK, it is heartening to hear of, for example, an increase in the minimum wage and a range of new laws designed to protect Nicaraguan workers’ rights including collective bargaining.

In particular we note the signing of a twinning agreement between Greater London region UNISON and UNE Managua in 2009, the successful visit of Domingo Perez, the General Secretary of UNE, to UNISON’s local government conference in 2011, and the participation of two young Nicaraguan trade unionists at National Delegate Conference 2012.

We also note the support given by the trade union’s International Development Fund to the opening of a legal office in Managua specialising in employment law, which has helped many workers to overcome difficulties in the workplace and have their rights recognised by their employers. This legal office is the first of its kind in Nicaragua, and its impact benefits not just UNE membership, but the wider union movement and therefore all workers’ rights.

We consider that these advances provide golden opportunities for UNISON and UNE to continue working together to their mutual benefit at a time when trade unions in the UK are under constant attack whilst in Nicaragua, trade union membership, particularly amongst young people, is flourishing.

We also recognise the pivotal role that the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign has played in maintaining an awareness of Nicaragua’s progress both amongst trade unions and the general public, and in facilitating the deepening of the relationship between UNISON and UNE.

With this in mind, Conference calls for the following:

1)encourage all branches and regions to affiliate to the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group and promote NSCAG events and campaigns;

2)urge the international relations department to continue to work closely with NSCAG and to further explore how relations with sister Nicaraguan trade unions can be strengthened and enhanced. This could include not only UNE but also FETSALUD, the health workers’ union;

3)to widely disseminate “good news” stories from Nicaragua such as the success of the legal office to raise awareness of the effectiveness of international solidarity amongst UNISON members;

4)encourage all UNISON regions to develop twinning agreements with UNE regions in Nicaragua.

Conference further urges the National Executive Council to explore new ways to work with the Nicaragua solidarity Campaign and to build support for the Nicaragua people through the strengthening of relations with our sister unions at all levels.