Celebrating Workers: 2015 Year in Photos

Whether building a towering office building in downtown Zimbabwe, sewing garments in a Bangladesh factory or digging for phosphate in Mexico mines, the world’s unsung working people demonstrate, time and again, the dignity of work. Here, we celebrate some of the amazing women and men we partnered with in 2015, and showcase their efforts to improve their lives and livelihoods and tip the scales toward greater equality in their countries.

As Mervat Jumhawi, a former garment worker and union organizer working with the Solidarity Center in Jordan, described her own experience: “When I became member of the union, I became stronger.”

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jeanne Hallacy

Thein Thein Aye, 23 and Khin Thit Lwin, 30, work at Shwe Mi Plastics Factory in Yangon, where they are paid $135 per month. Both moved to the city from their villages, where jobs are scarce, and recently joined the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar, a long-time Solidarity Center ally.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Alaa Salih

Khadeja Othman, 43, a mother of two, teaches kindergarten in Ramallah’s Bet Our Al Tahta village. Through her union, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), which is supported by the Solidarity Center, kindergarten and private school workers can learn new teaching skills and work together to improve their wages and working conditions.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Lela Mepharishvili

Giorgi Adamashvili works outdoors as a bus mechanic in Tblisi, where he toils throughout the harsh Georgian winters. Seeking to address poor working conditions, he and his co-workers recently joined the transportation union, which has recruited hundreds of new members and founded several new local unions in the past year with Solidarity Center assistance.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess

Stephen Manyoma works at the Hualong Construction Company Project, which is building the G-Tel Telecommunications office block in downtown Harare. Manyoma is a member of the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers Union (ZCTAWU). With Solidarity Center support, ZCTAWU offers members numerous skills-based training workshops covering contract negotiations, worker representation and more.

Credit: Los Mineros

In Mexico, Ruth Adriana Lopez Patiño, from Los Mineros, Julia Quiñonez, CFO, and Mariela Sanchez Casas, Los Mineros, all founded the “Mineras de Acero” (Women Miners of Steel) training program. In February, they participated in a tour of a gold mine during a training on gender equality and women’s leadership.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Alaa Salih

Abed Al Salam Qadah, 49, is from Marda village near Qalqilya city in Palestine’s West Bank and works as a plumber in Israel.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Balmi Chisim

On April 24, 2013, the multistory Rana Plaza factory collapsed, a preventable tragedy that killed more than 1,100 garment workers and injured thousands more. On the two-year anniversary in April, family members and friends gathered at the site of the building to commemorate their loss.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess

Prudence Chimbo, who operates Green Life Hardware at the Jambanja Market in Harare, Zimbabwe, is among informal economy workers joining together to improve their working conditions with the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA). With Solidarity Center support, ZCIEA trains workers in negotiation skills to advocate for issues such as adequate municipal space for vending.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Balmi Chisim

Workers at this garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh, formed a union with the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF), a longtime Solidarity Center ally, enabling them to achieve safe workplaces and living wages.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Lela Mepharishvili

Tamar Barisashvili, a language teacher at Public School #24 in Tbilisi, the capital, is a leader in her union, the Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia (ESFTUG), a Solidarity Center ally.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Kate Conradt

Baria, a former migrant worker in Malaysia now working for Migrant Care in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Anis Hidayah, Migrant Care executive director, were among 200 participants at the Solidarity Center conference, Labor Migration: Who Benefits? Migrant Care co-sponsored the August event in Bogor, Indonesia.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess

Dzidzai Magada Mwarozva is Human Resources director at Destiny Electronics, principle distributor of Phillips electronics and telecommunications products in Zimbabwe. Workers at the plant, in the Msasa industrial area on Harare’s east side, are members of the National Union of Metal and Allied Industries in Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ), a Solidarity Center ally.

Credit: Roberto Armocida

Juan Pablo Bautista Gómez, with the protective equipment he wears in the mine, gets set to leave for work from his home in La Paz, Mexico, where he lives with his daughter and grandchildren. Gómez has worked in the mines since 1978 and is in charge of maintaining equipment and external logistics.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Kate Conradt

Wisborn Malaya, general secretary of Zimbabwe’s informal economy workers’ association ZCIEA, was among more than 200 participants from 45 countries at the Solidarity Center conference, Labor Migration: Who Benefits? The conference built on the Solidarity Center’s migrant worker rights programs in more than 20 countries, actively involving migrant worker advocates in strategic discussions.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Lela Mepharishvili

Members of the Automobile Transport and Highway Workers’ National Trade Union of Georgia (ATHWTUG) have opportunities to take part in labor education seminars held by ATHWTUG and the Solidarity Center. ATHWTUG, an affiliate of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC), works with the Solidarity Center to enhance the capacity of the union and strengthen workers organizations.

Credit: Solidarity House

Workers in Cambodia, where the Solidarity Center allies with many unions and worker associations, turned out in events across the country to mark International Human Rights Day December 10. Although mass rallies are banned in Cambodia, workers there and around the globe marked the day by conveying a fundamental message: Worker rights are human rights.

Credit: Los Mineros

Women miners in Mexico take a break during from mining and welding to participate in a workshop on collective bargaining focused on strategies that include gender equality and family-friendly contract language. Los Mineros members include Maria de los Angeles Nuñez de la Rosa (center), Alma Yadira Martinez Ramirez (top right) and Eliza Martinez Carrillo (top left).

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess

Ennie Marufu, 90, works at her granddaughter’s project, Dovi World, selecting peanuts suitable for making peanut butter. Her granddaughter, Nyaradzo Tavarwisa, a member of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), a Solidarity Center ally, assists other women and ZCIEA members in setting up their own peanut butter businesses.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Balmi Chisim

Hundreds of garment worker union leaders have participated this year in the Solidarity Center’s 10-week fire safety certification course. “People who worked at Tazreen and Rana Plaza had no training and had no union,” says Saiful, who took part in a recent fire training. “This training is about making sure those things never happen again.”

Credit: Solidarity Center/Roberto Armocida

Mine worker Ruth Rivera, 45, a single mother of three, has worked six years in phosphate mines in La Paz, a large commercial center in the Mexican coastal state of Baja Sur. Rivera was a founding member Mineras de Acero (Women Mineworkers of Steel), a leadership and gender equality training program jointly developed by the Solidarity Center, United Steelworkers (USW), Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (Border Committee of Workers, CFO) and her union, Los Mineros.

Credit: Solidarity Center/Jeanne Hallacy

Coca-Cola factory workers in the Hlaing Thay Yar industrial zone outside of Yangon have formed a union with the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar, a longtime Solidarity Center ally.