Thirty women from railway unions in Russia and transport unions in Bulgaria shared their experiences in Moscow last week with Ekaterina Yordanova and Olga Vakuleno, members of the ITF women transport workers’ committee.
The women unionists were participating in the Leading Change programme run by the ITF in partnership with the Harvard Labor and Work life Program at Harvard Law School.
The programme, which ran from 20-24 July, included training in leadership, strategic planning and communication. Each participant delivered an individual presentation on union organising and negotiating, applying the tools from the programme. Dr Elaine Bernard from Harvard delivered the training, with the support of Janina Malinovska, ITF assistant secretary, inland transport sections.
Opening the programme, Nikolay Nikiforov, chair of the Trade Union of Railwaymen and Transport Construction Workers of Russia and an ITF executive board member, said: “Women make up 40 percent of the employees at the state-owned Russian Railways company (RZD) and there are women’s structures in every company unit.
“Over 60 percent of leaders of local unions are women, and they are more disciplined and more active at solving wages and other issues than men. The RZD collective agreement contains special clauses which ensure maternity and education rights.”
Alison McGarry, ITF women transport workers’ co-ordinator, commented that the Leading Change programme was going from strength to strength and was pivotal in bringing women together to share their experiences, be inspired and develop the skills and confidence they needed to lead and influence their unions.
In April women leaders from ITF affiliates in 27 countries gathered in London and pledged to continue building union power, denouncing discrimination, and challenging neo-liberal austerity policies. Read more.
See how you can help build strong unions that represent women at all levels with the ITF’s women’s packs.