Nicaraguan trade unionists visit UK as guests of UNISON

NSCAG News | on: Tuesday, 19 June 2012

UNISON link with Nicaraguan Trade Union UNE

The public sector union UNE was set up 1978, the year before the Sandinista Revolution which overthrew the Somoza dictatorship. It played a key role in implementing the new society and defending the country against aggressive US attempts to overthrow the government. After the Sandinistas’ defeat in the 1990 elections, the unions and public sector were decimated by successive right wing governments. However, the Sandinistas won elections in 2007 and 2011 which has resulted in a resurgence of trade union strength. UNE has some 55,000 members.

Nicaraguan visitors speak about importance of solidarity with UNISON

Arely López and Emerson Silva are in the UK to talk about the importance of UNISON’s support to UNE, and the mutual solidarity between the two unions. The relationship between UNE and UK public sector workers began in 1983 through NALGO and has continued through UNISON. It has always been a relationship of mutual respect where UNISON has provided political and practical support to UNE, and UNE has supported UNISON in its struggles within UK, eg, in fighting pension cuts, and also in international fora such as the Public Services International and the International Labour Organization. A key aspect of promoting mutual solidarity has been delegations of UK trade unionists to Nicaragua and speaker tours of the UK by Nicaraguan trade unionists

Nicaragua Workers Front (FNT) youth training project funded by UNISON and CWU

In 2009 the Communications Workers Union and UNISON International Development Fund provided funds for training young Nicaraguan trade unionists in leadership skills, employment law, and union organising.

Arely LopezArely López is the Secretary of the UNE young members section, a member of the National Workers Front (FNT - the equivalent of TUC) young members committee, and is UNE representative to the young members section of Public Services International in the Mexico, Central America, Panama and Dominican Republic sub region. Arely participated in the above training. She says “Thanks to the help of NSCAG and UNISON, young trade unionists have received training with a focus on empowering young people to take on leadership roles. I am now a member of the Executive Committee of UNE.”

UNE legal office funded by UNISON

In 2011 UNISON provided £20,000 to enable UNE to set up a legal office. For the first time UNE is able to provide advice and fight legal battles for any members subject to unfair treatment in the workplace. As well as taking up individual cases the office will also ensure through a training programme that the union becomes more self-sustaining in providing legal advice to its members.

Emerson Silva UrbinaEmerson Silva Urbina is a lawyer and member of the Leonel Rugama youth movement of the UNE section representing local government workers in Managua.
General Secretary of UNE, Domingo Perez says “Your solidarity has been critical in enabling us to pass on the torch between generations in our trade union. Likewise UNISON’s help in setting up a legal office has been instrumental in helping to create stability of employment, and in negotiating collective bargaining.”

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (NSCAG) facilitates links between Nicaraguan trade unions and their UK counterparts. Further information:

Arely López and Emerson Silva will be speaking at a Public meeting in London on the 23 of June ‘Involving young people in politics in Nicaragua’, click here for details.

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