Solidarity projects in Pro | Trade Union Pro
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Solidarity projects in Pro

Pro realises its solidarity operations primarily through the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK. SASK is funded by the development cooperation fund of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Finnish trade unions. Pro has projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Global union federations and local trade unions are our primary project partners.

Pro supports SASK

The centre of Pro’s solidarity operations is formed by the ILO objective of ensuring that all employees have basic rights in working life and that democratic and financially independent trade unions are established. The central ILO basic rights in working life include prohibiting the use of child and slave labour, eliminating discrimination and providing trade unions with the right to unionise and negotiate. Recurring themes include ‘decent work’ and ‘living wage’, both issues promoted in the projects of Pro.

Developing countries can roughly be divided into two groups. Least developed countries (LDC) and middle income countries. The latter group is often further divided into two: middle income countries of lower and higher income level. The UN maintains a list of LDC countries.

In addition to the average income level of a country, one key indicator is the Gini coefficient measuring the equality of distribution of income. It depicts the ratio of poor and rich. For instance, In India, the Gini coefficient is smaller than in the United States, i.e. in India, the distribution of income is more even. The Nordic Countries have the lowest Gini coefficients in the world, i.e. their distribution of income is the most even.

 The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) under the OECD is one of the world’s most important regulatory bodies defining and maintaining the standards of international development aid. DAC’s members are the 24 countries providing the most development aid, including Finland.

Initiation of trade unions in Africa

Of all continents, Africa has the largest number of LDC countries. The operational preconditions of trade unions are often very limited. On the other hand, the continent also has some very strong trade unions, for instance in South Africa. There are many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where the numbers of people with HIV or AIDS are extremely high. In some countries, up to half of all adult population has the disease. Due to extensive absolute poverty, the number of migrant workers inside Africa is also high. In Africa, the Pro projects often focus on building and maintaining the basic functions of trade unions and supporting those in the weakest position.

Improving agreements in Asia

In Asia, many large developing countries, such as China, India and Indonesia, are developing countries with an average income level. Nevertheless, Asia has the largest number of the poorest citizens. In many countries, the operational preconditions of trade unions are limited by the undemocratic nature of party politics or extensive lack of unity. Many Finnish companies have established their business in Asia, as have many other multinational industrial enterprises. In Asia, the Pro projects often focus on developing the structures of trade unions, influencing multinational companies or building a collective agreement culture. 

Trade unions under pressure in America

Many countries in Latin America, such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, are already developing countries with a higher income level. Finnish companies and other multinational companies have production facilities in these countries. The countries of Central America are primarily developing countries with a lower income level and do not have similar industrial operations. In most countries in Latin America, trade union operations are politically regulated and in some countries, such as Mexico, the democratic trade unions are under a great deal of pressure. The political stability of the countries has fluctuated, and the status of trade unions has changed with it. On the other hand, Brazil, for instance, has some very effective and significant unions. However, even in Brazil, the negotiation system of collective agreements does not meet the basic rights of the ILO. In Latin America, the Pro projects often focus on enhancing the national-level trade union operations, supporting collective agreement operations, and influencing multinational companies.