18 December 2013 – The ITF-affiliated Ethiopian Transport and Communication Workers Federation (ETWCF) announced the launch of a joint HIV/AIDS fund this week at the ITF Africa regional HIV seminar for civil aviation unions.
Ten aviation union leaders from seven countries attended the seminar, to work together to develop a strategic response. The fund, financed through employer, employee and union contributions, makes it easier for Ethiopian airport workers and their families to access HIV testing and treatment. It is the first initiative of it’s kind among African aviation unions, and represents the most progressive example of mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in core union business.
This fund has been a long time in the making; the ETCWF’s Zeleke Mena, who introduced the fund at the seminar, worked on the ITF HIV/AIDS Civil Aviation Resource Pack, which included a case study on the Transport and Communication Workers’ Trade Union Industrial Federation (TCWTUIF. The pack outlines the structures, strategies and policies the union used to make HIV/AIDS part of its day-to-day work and to secure agreement with the government on HIV/AIDS provision.
Mena explained that the fund was set up as a result of collective bargaining agreements signed by the union, to ensure better provision of medical support for workers affected by HIV. The fund does not depend on external funding, is governed by a steering group elected by contributors, and operates in a transparent way – under direct control of the workers.
ITF’s civil aviation section secretary Gabriel Mocho said: “With this new fund the ETCWF proved that trade unions have the vital resources that can support efforts to control the epidemic as well as providing testing and treatment for transport workers and their families. Convincing workers to contribute to this fund is a major breakthrough in our on-going fight against HIV/AIDS. I congratulate the ETCWF for not waiting passively and taking the lead in this struggle.”
You can download the aviation HIV/AIDS toolkit in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, or request a hard-copy in Portuguese, athttp://www.itfglobal.org/infocentre/pubs.cfm/detail/36164.