Sunday, 15 March 2009

Focus on supporting unions in the poorest countries

Minister Bert Koenders is forcing FNV Mondiaal, an organisation which supports trade unions in over a hundred countries, to focus on unions in the very poorest countries. In 2012, 60 percent of the monies from the Trade Union Co-Funding Programme (VMP) of the Department of Development Cooperation must be spent in these countries. This policy change will have a significant impact. In 2008, 32.8 of the funds FNV Mondiaal receives from the government went to Koenders’ new country list.
FNV Mondiaal is unhappy with the new policy paper. Manager Dian van Unen has made a tour of the Global Union Federations to discuss the consequences. “We will have to free funds by stopping activities in countries where we are successful. We also feel the consequences when it regards regional funds. It will be a difficult puzzle the coming years. In the Least Developed Countries that we are supposed to focus on and in fragile states, the situation is complicated and there is little room for political partners and civil society to manoeuvre. Trade unions tend not to be very strong and divided among themselves and are under pressure from repressive governments. FNV Mondiaal already has to make a considerable effort to support partners in countries like Belarus and Colombia.
Koenders’ new policy paper will also have consequences for expenditures from the Solidarity Fund of FNV Bondgenoten. If FNV Mondiaal cannot support projects, people will turn to the Fund for support more often.
Countries Koenders is phasing out include Ecuador, where FNV Mondiaal and FNV Bondgenoten jointly fund a flower programme of the Fenacle union. Turkey, where the Dutch union movement is going to actively support trade unions, will no longer be eligible for co-funding from Development Cooperation.
Source: FNV Company Monitor

1 comment:

Peter Waterman, The Hague said...

The real scandal here is that the FNV is dependent on the state for a major part of its international activities. What the state gives the state can take away or, in this case, order unions to adopt state priorities. The Dutch union movement should move out of the prison of state 'development cooperation' and towards a model of 'global labour solidarity'. The latter would imply collecting solidarity funding from workers and citizens. This would transform the Netherlands-Thirdworld union relationship from a patron-client model to a meaningfully solidarity one, with Dutch unionists, workers and civil society becoming owners of the solidarity presently given in their name.

Peter Waterman
p.waterman@inter.nl.net