Workers’ Equality Forum: Share Your Story!
Sam Oliver, a union shop steward at the Sime Darby Rubber and Oil plantation in Liberia, where workers live in company-provided housing, says “people lived in deplorable” conditions before joining the General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia (GAAWUL).
Today, says Oliver, a warehouse clerk on the plantation, “through the intervention of this union, you can now see they are renovating some of these houses and negotiation is on the table so they can fast track the renovation.”
Oliver describes his experiences improving the lives of working people at the Solidarity Center Workers’ Equality Forum site, an interactive platform for workers to share their stories, connect with each other and convey their workplace realities to a larger public.
Equality Forum Showcases Stories by Workers, for Workers
The Equality Forum showcases first-person stories by workers themselves—through video, audio or written text. Workers can record their narratives via the easy Record Story tool, upload a first-person video or email a first-person story. “Share Your Story” pages are in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.
“I start work at 5:30 a.m. and will first of all get the children up and dressed and give them breakfast,” says Lucy Nyangasi, a domestic worker in Kenya, who describes her work caring for a Nairobi family, on the Equality Forum site.
“I will then send them off to school and clean the house. I will do the washing up and ironing and make sure everything is ready when they get home from school. Then I will help them have tea and cake.”
By watching, reading or listening to stories on the Equality Forum, workers can connect with other workers who share the same fears of unsafe factories or abusive managers and the same desire for positive change on the job and in their community.
Sharing Stories, Empowering Workers
Because she is a member of Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), Nyangasi says her employers treat her well.
“My employers are good to me. I get given food and meals three times a day, and time off. On Sundays, I am off and will go and see my family in Nairobi or friends. I will then travel home to see my children every six weeks by bus.”
And by describing conditions on the factory floor and advocating for unions and worker associations that support working families, workers like Nyangasi gain confidence in speaking about their workplace conditions and in taking action to improve their jobs and lives.
If you have a story about your workplace experiences, please post it at the Workers’ Equality Forum. Or if you know workers who have a story, encourage them to share it—in doing so, they let workers around the world know that others share their struggles.
This forum was launched with support from the National Endowment for Democracy.