Workers from around the world, including those exiled from Belarus, Eswatini and Myanmar for forming unions, striking and trying to speak freely, describe why democracy is important—and why unions are key to democracy.
As a result of strong union activism, in partnership with indigenous communities, the Brazilian government has recently halted a massive development project in the Brazilian wetlands that threatened workers and indigenous communities that are dependent on the river. Given this significant victory, we’re revisiting a podcast from 2022 when we first talked to activist and union leader Carmen Foro, who became a part of the newly elected Brazilian government not long after our interview.
A community that makes its livelihood from the Amazon is standing up to the Brazilian government that, without consulting with the people most affected, is on the verge of undertaking a blasting and dredging project along a river waterway that would destroy their livelihoods. Carmen Foro, a rural activist and a Brazilian union leader on the frontlines of the struggle, describes a community’s fight for survival.
In Eswatini, where union workers are routinely harassed, attacked and even killed for going on strike or holding rallies, union leader Sticks Nkambule was recently targeted by the government for leading a strike to improve working conditions. Forced to flee the country, Nkambule describes the interconnected struggle for worker rights, human rights and democracy. “We are just demanding the basics of what could be defined as democracy. A government that is formed by the people and serving their interests.”
Mësuesit në Kosovë luftojnë për të mbështetur familjet e tyre me pagat e tyre dhe kanë burime të kufizuara në klasë – por thonë se qeveria ua ka kthyer shpinën kërkesave të tyre për bashkëpunim për të përmirësuar arsimin. “Ne po mundohemi të krijojmë një rrjet bashkëpunimi të ndërsjellë -thotë Rrahman Jasharaj, kryetar i Sindikatës së Mësuesve, SBASHK. “Kolegët e mi në të gjitha shkollat e Kosovës aktualisht po luftojnë për arsimin vetëm me një shkumës, fshirëse dërrase, dërrasë të bardhë dhe në kushtet e mungesës së mjeteve dhe pajisjeve themelore për zhvillimin e procesit mësimor ashtu sic duhet.”
Teachers in Kosovo struggle to support their families on their wages and have limited classroom resources–but say the government has turned its back on their requests to partner together to improve education. “We’re trying to establish a mutual cooperation network,” says Rrahman Jasharaj, chair of the teacher’s union, SBASHK. “My colleagues in all Kosovo schools are currently battling for education only by a chalk, sponge, whiteboard and lacking basic tools and requisites for conducting the proper teaching process.”
Union women who work at factories, on farms, in restaurants, taxis and offices successfully campaigned for an international treaty to end gender-based violence at work. Authors of a new book, “Stopping Gender-Based Violence and Harassment at Work: The Campaign for an ILO Convention,” share these womens’ stories and describe the powerful movement they created with human rights organizations, feminist organizations, disability rights organizations and others around the world. Also on the show, South African union activist Brenda Modise tells what it was like to be on the front lines of the campaign.
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