REPORT ON FIVE DAYS REGIONAL ORGANISING ACADEMY 11TH -16TH JULY 2016 - LOME, TOGO

Keywords : Reports Organising And Workers Empowerment - Trade Union Unity

DAY I
It all started on Monday 11th July 2016 with an opening where participants introduced themselves and a warm welcome by the Secretary General, Bro Kwesi Adu Amankwa, encouraging all that the academy is a fulfilment from the last Regional ITUC Congress where members committed themselves to increase the membership of ITUC Africa by 20 million. He further said that the academy was set up in 2013 to build workers power in the area of organizing.

The session started in earnest with Emily Paulin leading out supported by Cindie Batz both from ITUC-Brussels.

Before working at plenary ground rules were set and the participants got to know each other by answering to three different questions in twos as they change partners for each question.
1. What campaign are you working on?
2. What is your favorite and most stressful part of the campaign
3. How has it impacted your life?

What is a campaign?
Working in four groups (2 Anglophone and 2 Francophone) led by four Organizing Focal Persons (Dorothy, Meshack, Malick and Francoise) several definitions came up:
• A campaign is a planned activity geared towards achieving a goal either by mobilization, agitation, lobbying or negotiation.
• A campaign is a series of planned activities geared towards reaching a particular goal with the aim of changing a particular situation
And two others from the francophone group.

Emily then gave two definitions which had similarity to the ones given by the groups

1. “Campaigns are highly energized, intensely focused concentrated streams of activities with specific goals and deadlines” (Marshall Ganz)

2. “A campaign is a series of connected events or actions implemented over a period of time which by changing existing power relation, leading to a specific goal or outcome” (Anon).

Discussions were held around why unions must organize and the following were the responses:

Organizing

• Makes the unions stronger
• Is geared towards empowering workers to know their rights
• Give workers a voice
• Organize or perish
• To address inequalities, advance workers problems and listen to them
• To boost union membership density
• Rules of operation changing power play

The elements of a structured organizing Conversation were put forth
1. Introduction
2. Get the story
3. Agitation
4. Vision/Plan to Win
5. Commitment
6. Inoculation
7. Move to Action

This was dealt with in earnest.

INTRODUCTION
Several questions were discussed in the introductory part of the conversation as this helps you to let the person know who is talking to them, why are you there, is it the right person you are talking to and do they work were you think they work, and at the end create a sense of urgency so that they may listen to you

GETTING THE STORY
Listen is the key word in getting the story. Organizers must speak little and listen well. Always keep the conversation on track. Ask open ended questions as a detective using the 5W’s and H. Organizers must try not to make statements after introduction but ask questions so as to dig deep.

Several Role Plays were done in smaller groups to understand the first two steps which ended the day on a good footing at 5:15p.m.

DAY II
We started off by welcoming Steven Benedict, Director Organizing ITUC Brussels. He said that unions must change their approach towards organizing and opined that he is worried about the multiplicity of unions in the Fracophone countries. A review was done on the previous day’s work with two participants leading out one for the Anglophone and another for the Francophone.

A role play was done by two participants to ascertain whether the previous day’s concept was understood and then moved on to the third step.

AGITATION
This was presented to the group at plenary on how the organizer can agitate the worker. It was clear that you must get them angry around their own issues but in a productive way. Good agitation question were also discussed and then the groups moved into action to grab the concepts in smaller role plays. This was dealt with till lunch.

After lunch we started with plenary were the last four steps were presented. This was dealt within a special way for the participant to know how to handle the worker

VISION/PLAN TO WIN
The steps to win must be clearly defined and choices outlined. Organizers must give realistic hope. In providing the vision organizers must
• Be clear
• Give concrete steps
• Be brief
The plan to win must be created around the issues the worker had narrated and they must be between 4 - 6 clear steps.

COMMITMENT
Get the worker to make a commitment to your plan to win as together we will win

INOCULATION
Inoculation is essential because the worker must understand that it is not easy to belong. There boss do not want the unions to exist and they must be prepared for any negative comments or actions. Several negative comments were made in plenary to assert comments made by the bosses against the union

MOVE TO ACTION
Moving to action is important because it gets people involved immediately. It is about numbers and responsibility. It confirms commitment to the course and builds leaders.

Participants then moved into their respective groups to work out role plays to confirm their understanding on the topics presented. The day ended at about 5:30p.m.

DAY III
As usual the day started off with reviewing the previous day’s work. We then moved into action trying to agitate a worker. This was very difficult as the worker was a difficult one but what came out clearly was that the concept of agitation was quite understood and we had to proceed.

We then looked at a context for campaigning analyzing in smaller groups a chart. Different choices were made and the participant made justification of their choices. The SWOT analysis was presented by Cindie at plenary and we moved into our groups to identify the Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in our various organizations for the campaign we are working on or intend working on. This was presented again at plenary for debate. The reason for this was to assist us to build on our strengths, minimizes our weaknesses, make the most of our opportunities and guard against our threats. At this point we had to bid farewell to Emily Paulin who was leaving for Brussels.

We were also able to deal with identifying our campaign goal, identify the decision maker and where to put pressure after looking at a case study “Organizing in the meat Industry – Unite (UK)”. This led us to identifying players involved in a campaign, those that are with the union and those against, mapping their influences towards the campaign. This day was full with group work working on the Context for Campaign. The day ended at 5:10p.m

DAY IV
As usual the day started off with reviewing the previous day’s work. We then moved into action with developing a message with Cindie presenting at plenary. She made it clear that a message should tell the problem, how it affects or impacts the people and the solution to the problem. Messages were then developed to speak to three different people in smaller groups (The Worker, Public and the Employer). After debating it at plenary it came out clearly that message should be specific and brief.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO OUR ADVANTAGE

A presentation was done on using social media to our advantage as it speaks to millions; therefore message heading and picture should be captivating so as to entice people to read them. We then had the opportunity to write short messages to captivate the attention of the workers, employers and the general public. The mapping identifying players involved in a campaign, those that are with the union and those against, mapping their influences towards the campaign was presented by the different groups. We were informed that a Facebook page will be created for the group to ensure continuity. The guidelines for the working group were provided. A recap was then done on Power mapping and SWOT analysis after which a video clip was shown Lead India – The Tree. It showed what it takes to be a lead organizer. The Lead Focal Organizers then presented achievements and challenges so far as organizers and words of encouragement to the new ones to forge ahead.

There was a presentation on making your objectives SMART. This is making your objectives Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-Bound. We then broke off working on our campaign presentation for the next day. The day ended at 5p.m.

DAY V
A review of the previous day started the working day. Members were then asked to present their Campaign Plan and this was done by each participant at plenary and discussed by all making corrections were necessary. Cindie Batz bade farewell to the group as she was leaving for Brussels.

After lunch Stephen Benedict asked for a change in the Trade Union Movement as support from other organizations is dwindling and cannot be sustained. He urged participant to push the Labour Movement to a sustainable height where they can be self-sufficient. He encouraged all to communicate with the Facebook platform as this will keep all abreast on happenings in our various countries.
COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE!! COMMUNICATE!!!

We were then fortunate to have two researchers from the Research Institute who informed us that their duty is to provide insights with empirical evidence for the leadership of ITUC and the restructuring and capacitating of the ITUC Education Department. They further informed us that they have been charged with providing a Research Methodology and Implementation Plan on the nature and structure of ITUC affiliates. Evaluation of the week’s program was done and certificates were presented to participant for their participation.

POCO LEVER!
POCO LEVER!!
POCO LEVER!!!

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