With Harald Wiedenhofer

Europe-LatAm cooperation advances


On Oct. 20-21, the city of Berlin hosted the Third Congress of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT), the IUF’s European regional organization. Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT secretary-general and IUF regional secretary for Europe, spoke with Sirel about some of the key issues discussed at the Congress and commented on labor cooperation between the IUF’s Latin American and European organizations.


-How many people participated at the Congress?

-There were over 300 participants from 34 European countries. Our 93 affiliates were all there, and this, besides being a great satisfaction, gave us the certainty that everyone was well represented.


-What were the main issues discussed at the Congress?

-The most important issue discussed at the Congress was precarious work and what could be done to address this challenge. In fact, the slogan of the event was: “Social Justice from Farm to Fork – Fight Precarious Work!”


-From “Farm to Fork” is part of the program and action strategy that Rel-UITA, the IUF’s Latin American division, adopted in its Twelfth Conference in Cordoba, Argentina in the year 2000…

-Yes, I’m familiar with those documents (laughter)…


-So, Social Justice from Farm to Fork…

-The thing is, the reality in Europe is one of increasing expansion of precarious, seasonal and temporary work, especially in the agriculture and food sector, where these forms of work are replacing stable employment.


We’re very concerned about this, which is why we adopted the Charter on Precarious Work.


-Another issue discussed was climate change…

-We believe climate change is, and must be, a concern of the sector’s workers, so we’re  creating a broad coalition with several NGOs, in particular those specialized in environmental issues.


At the Congress we recalled how environmental protection was already on the agenda at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and how Article 16 of the Rio Declaration mentioned the important role that trade unions were called to play in that area.


It is also our duty to consider health at work and safe labor conditions as a part of living and working in a healthy environment. This is the special challenge we face here in Europe.


-Were you satisfied with the discussions and the outcome?

-Yes, we’re very satisfied with the results and the documents adopted. Specifically on an international level, and with respect to Latin America, the Congress adopted resolutions on the situations in Colombia, Honduras and Peru.


In particular we issued a resolution demanding that the European Union stop all negotiations with Honduras while the dictatorial regime continues in power.


As for Latin America-Europe cooperation, I’d like to underline that we were cooperating even before the Congress, having launched a process of unprecedented cooperation with Rel-UITA last year, and our intention is to continue and strengthen these efforts. Supporting each other and keeping a close watch on transnational corporations and their operations in both regions are challenges we must undertake together.


In this sense, for example, we’re planning to hold a Conference of Dairy Sector Workers in Latin America in March 2010, and we’re already beginning to cooperate and work together to guarantee the active and fruitful participation of the sector’s European unions.


From Montevideo, Beatriz Sosa Martínez and Gerardo Iglesias


November 20, 2009

Photos: Gerardo Iglesias





From Montevideo, Beatriz Sosa Martínez and Gerardo Iglesias


                 November 27, 2009




Photos: Gerardo Iglesias 


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