The conference of UNI Americas’ Care sector brought together unions from throughout the region to build an action plan for promoting union growth and fighting against neoliberalism in the sector. The meeting, held on 27 June in Fortaleza, featured presentations by Miguel Zubieta, Global President of UNI Care; Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union General Secretary; Adrian Durtschi, Head of Department of UNI Care; Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas; and Alan Sable, Director of UNI Care Americas.
Miguel Zubieta said, “This conference confirms the continuous progress of our sector in its pursuit of the permanent goal of building powerful unions, who have the capacity to improve the lives of the women and men we represent.”
“What we seek is for governments to make public policies for workers, to strengthen the labour movement, our organizations, and above all to fight against dismal working conditions and poverty wages. UNI, as a global organization and one that represents unions at the level of the Americas, is able to be the voice of the workers in international organizations.”
Juliana Machado, from the Federación Paulista de Trabajadores de la Salud y de Sinsaúde Campinas y Región said, “UNI creates a dialogue between countries and economic sectors, especially that of care. The situation in other countries also impacts ours. Together we can address the issue of the relationship of foreign capital to workers’ rights and try to align the most assertive actions between countries.”
At the meeting, there was strategizing about how to break through to grow membership and union power within multinational companies and how to help long-term care workers in the Americas organize. Unions in the room also discussed building national sectoral power to defend and strengthen health systems, and the role of unions in protecting the mental health of health care workers.
The care union activists also traded best practices for campaigns that pressure governments to fund and maintain social security systems while ensuring liveable wages and decent working conditions.
“Breaking through in care not only improves conditions for millions of workers globally,” said Adrian Durtschi of UNI Global Union’s Care sector, “it will leave a legacy that the next generation of workers can build on. The need for care workers will balloon in the coming decades so we must have agreements now that better working conditions, end precarious contracts, and to fight against authoritarian governments that want to take away the rights of working people.”