2018-10-22

Globalt ramavtal - en lokal framgångshistoria i Swaziland

Från att tidigare haft låga medlemssiffror och inte fått ett erkännande som fackförening lyckades fackförbundet SCAWU i Swaziland, på bara tre månader, öka antalet medlemmar med 70 procent. Nu har de blivit erkända som fackförening av arbetsgivaren och kan äntligen börja förhandla om kollektivavtal. Vad var nyckeln bakom framgången? Att ett globalt ramavtal fanns på plats, hårt organiseringsarbete och stödet från Shoprite Alliance Network, som Handelsanställdas förbund stöttar, med finansiering från Union to Union.

Detta är historien om hur globala ramavtal kan göra enorm skillnad för arbetstagare hela vägen ner till golvet i multinationella företag och hur svenskt fackligt utvecklingssamarbete dessutom bidragit till att det lyckats.

Globala ramavtal tecknas mellan de globala facken och multinationella företag och ska ställa upp villkor som aldrig får brytas inom en koncern oavsett var i världen verksamheten bedrivs. Villkoren utgår från ILO:s kärnkonventioner och ska konkretiseras och kompletteras genom nationella avtal.

Avtalen kan ge stöd för anställda i länder med svag arbetsrätt. Avtalen motverkar även social dumping, det vill säga att det blir lönsamt för företag att flytta sin verksamhet till länder där arbetsvillkoren är sämre. Ibland omfattar även avtalen företagens alla underleverantörer.

Globala fackliga ramavtal hjälper nationella fackföreningar att bygga strukturer för att bättre kunna hålla en balanserad dialog med multinationella företag. Ramavtalet kan fungera som en viktig dörröppnare in i företag för lokala fackföreningar i länder där den fackliga organiseringen är svag.

Detta var fallet för fackföreningen Swaziland Commercial and Allied Workers Union (SCAWU) och vägen in för dem att i Swaziland bli erkända av Shoprite Checkers – en sydafrikansk multinationell återförsäljare av bland annat livsmedel.

SCAWU deltar i ett projekt som Handelsanställdas förbund driver i samarbete med det globala tjänstemannafacket UNI Global Union och Union to Union och får genom projektet bland annat möjligheten att delta i Shoprite Alliance Network.

Det var på ett av Shoprite Alliance Networks möten som Phila Mthethwa, facklig organiserare och rekryterare på SCAWU, fick kunskap om hur de kunde använda sig av det globala ramavtal som Shoprite Checkers skrivit under. Det skapade en öppning till förändring och var början till hur de på bara tre månader ökade antalet medlemmar dramatiskt, och nu är en erkänd fackförening och kan börja förhandla kollektivavtal med arbetsgivaren i Swaziland.

Läs intervjun på engelska som UNI Global Union gjort med Phila Mthethwa, där han med egna ord berättar om utmaningarna och hur de nu, med det globala ramavtalet som verktyg, lyckats vända trenden:

 

Phila Mthethwa, facklig organiserare och rekryterare på Swaziland Commercial and Allied Workers Union (SCAWU)

What are the challenges of organising workers in Swaziland?

There are several challenges. For example, some managers are still wary of unions, and this they show in subtle ways. Some of our members feel intimidated. It’s difficult to recruit in such an environment.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for SCAWU was the de-recognition by Shoprite Checkers. For a decade, the South African multinational retailer rebuffed our efforts to organise workers at the company. One year SCAWU lost over 150 members to reach an all-time low of 192.

 

How did you try to get Shoprite to engage?

When I joined SCAWU in 2015, the lack of recognition dominated every agenda. In 2016, UNI Global pumped money to help us recruit and gain recognition. We didn't resonate with Shoprite workers, and that strategy fell apart. We then took the company to court to annul the Permanent Part-Timers Agreement. We'd hoped a win there would force the company to engage with us, but that wasn't the case.

 

What led you to the Global Framework Agreement?

During the 2017 Shoprite Shop Stewards Alliance meeting held in South Africa, Swaziland was once again under the spotlight. Members wondered why we hadn't made any gains penetrating Shoprite.

Desperate, I asked UNI Global Union to compel Shoprite to recognise SCAWU. UNI Global had intervened in Lesotho, and besides, SCAWU was the only active union in Shoprite in the kingdom. But, UNI told us to return home and think of effective strategies and tactics. I vowed we'd have excellent news at the next network meeting.

For Shoprite to recognise and bargain with us, we’d need to achieve the 50 % threshold. We needed a new recruiting plan fast. So I dug in SCAWU’s archive for the Global Framework Agreement ( FES YouTube GFA clip). We delved into the GFA, and it turned out the magic bullet to penetrate Shoprite was always under our noses!

 

How did you use the GFA?

I wrote to Shoprite management and asked if SCAWU could visit every store to popularise the GFA. To our amazement the company agreed, but with some conditions. Firstly, we'd have to meet workers between 7.00 to 7.40AM. Secondly, branch managers would attend our meetings. And we couldn't talk about anything else except the GFA. We accepted the conditions. So, with a shoestring budget, we began our recruitment campaign.

The first meeting took place on the 10 October 2017. We spoke about the GFA and explained the de-recognition of SCAWU. We told workers that the GFA, which Shoprite Checkers signed in February 2010, ensures core labour standards, including the right to organise and bargain collectively, are respected everywhere the company does business. We promised to improve the benefits in the Part-Timers Agreement and to restore collective bargaining.

In some stores, we'd sneak in advice on some pressing issues. For instance, the stipulations for sick leave. Only a registered medical practitioner could book you off for days, and not a nurse. Such advice impressed the managers, and they yielded to the idea of a union. The Human Resources Manager called me to say that she liked our approach.

We'd stay up late reviewing the progress of our new strategy, and by 3 AM, I'd be on the road to another meeting. Our campaign slogan was ‘Everyone Join. Every One Form Counts’. When workers heard that the GFA is widely recognised, they started signing up. Often, I’d leave meetings with signed forms. And my president led by example - she clinched 100 % membership at her branch. We encouraged new members to recruit in their stores. Soon, everyone had caught the ”bug”.

SCAWU now has about 510 members, from a paltry 192. Due to the GFA, membership increased by over 70 % in only three months!

 

Did you face any challenges due to your age?

As the new, young person in the union, I was the official face of the recruitment campaign. I resonated with part-timers who are mostly young. They felt they were represented in the union. My general secretary accompanied me to validate our campaign message. Everyone at SCAWU pulled their weight. The workers needed to see solidarity and commitment. Too often they’d been disappointed by ‘briefcase unions’. SCAWU’s campaign communication emphasised the benefits of joining a union.

 

To what do you attribute your success?

Our win was because of the GFA, our hard work and support from the Shoprite Alliance Network. Signing both the Memorandum of Agreement and Recognition Agreement was very emotional for us. After the euphoria, the real work for us has just begun.

Text: Tomas Rodriguez Hedling
Intervju: UNI global union

Läs mer om projektet som SCAWU är del av

SCAWU deltar i ett projekt som Handelsanställdas förbund driver i samarbete med UNI global union och Union to Union.

Läs mer om det här:
Increasing Organising and bargaining power in Sub-Sahara Africa in Shoprite Checkers, Pick n Pay, Massmart/Walmart, Choppies and NAKUMATT