How does the WE project work?

Capacity building for labour unions to influence labour conditions at the beginning of agri-food chains

Fairfood and CNV International share the common goal of improving the social and economic conditions of workers in the food industry at the beginning of the food supply chain.  Fairfood and CNV have successfully collaborated towards this goal since 2008 and are currently implementing the multi-year capacity development programme 2013-2015.

In this project, Fairfood works with selected labour union confederations of countries in the Global South, who are considered as key agents of change. The labour unions in the WE project are all umbrella organisations, representing many sectors and local labour unions in their respective countries. They already have an extensive national network with organisations that are involved in human rights. For example, the Colombian labour union CGT closely cooperates with women’s movements and farmers’ organisations.

WE graph.jpg

Therefore, the role of labour unions in the WE Project is twofold: firstly they are responsible for identifying socio-economic and environmental issues affecting food production in their countries. This evidence is used by Fairfood’s global advocacy work and by the unions when they engage in evidence-based advocacy activities towards companies in their home country.

The latter has proved to be especially helpful as well as innovative to the labour unions. The main strategy of the unions to exercise pressure on companies was to use ‘traditional’ tools such as strikes. As a result of this project, they have now started to embrace tailor-made intervention strategies ranging from public awareness campaigns, cooperating with sustainable business initiatives and tri-partite dialogues.

Capacity development of labour unions has always been the cornerstone of the WE project. Throughout the years, Fairfood has implemented these capacity development activities through various strategies, including face-to-face training sessions, training materials in English and Spanish, webinars, knowledge sharing initiatives and online tools aimed at improving the abilities and skills of labour unions.

Current work

In 2014, the WE project continues to provide training and support to unions at the beginning of the global food chains.  KSBSI in Indonesia and CGT in Colombia have received face-to-face training on how to improve the advocacy campaign proposals they worked on last year. In this training, Fairfood has focused especially on enhancing their capacities with regard to developing communication strategies and on monitoring and evaluation. CGT Honduras, on the contrary, is receiving support to implement the advocacy campaign they designed last year. This union has already started to achieve results through the campaign.

Next steps

There is a lot of synergy between the WE project and the rest of Fairfood’s work. The WE project’s methodology, training materials and accumulated expertise are currently feeding into Fairfood’s hotspot work, where capacity development activities are implemented. Fairfood intends to continue integrating the WE project into its overall advocacy and capacity development work.

Read our newsletters about the project:

2012 / 2013

Newsletter 1 (pdf)

Newsletter 2 (pdf)

Newsletter 3 (pdf)

Newsletter 4 (pdf)

Newsletter 5 (pdf)