Report by Liz Skelcher and Lucia Collins on the ICTU Global Solidarity Summer School.
Lucia Collins and Liz Skelcher attended the 10th Annual ICTUI Global Solidarity Summer School on 25 and 26 July 2018. This year’s theme was Building our Power – Organising for Global Solidarity - which has hosted in Derry for the first time.
Over 80 trade union delegates from right across the island, gathered to discuss the movement’s global solidarity work and to hear from a range of national and international speakers. Eamon McCann welcomed people to Derry on behalf of the Derry Trades Council.
Kevin Callinan, Congress Vice President, gave the Opening Address. He explained the items for discussion at this year’s summer school were:
- Asylum seekers
- Agenda 2030
- International Labour Conference
- Irish Aid consultation
Emily Paulin of the ITUC Global Organising Academy, discussed how Unions have come a long way in “Building our Power” since the last ITUC Congress in 2014.
Following the recent Irish Government report to the UN High Level Political Forum in New York, delegates heard from Coalition 2030 rep, Valerie Duffy on Ireland's Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. We then had a session considering how best to integrate the goals into our trade union work, not least Goal 8 on decent work.
There was a focus on Asylum seekers and the recent decision by the Irish Government to grant access to the labour market for people awaiting a decision after 9 months. Delegates heard from the Lucky Khambule, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, and Michael O'Neill, head of legal at IHREC and also from John O'Neill and Philani Dube about the work of Belfast City of Sanctuary.
The intention of Belfast City of Sanctuary is to make Belfast a welcoming environment for refugees, asylum-seekers and new communities. Wherever refugees go in our neighbourhoods they should feel safe and find people who welcome them, support them, include them in their activities, recognise and celebrate what they can contribute. Belfast City of Sanctuary want to build that same culture of welcome in our schools, workplaces, entertainment centres, places of worship and all public spaces. They hope to work with all those in public services, both at policy level and on the frontline, to ensure that an ethos of civility and welcome pervades at all times.
Finally, we heard about the humanitarian situation in Gaza from Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA). This was followed by a discussion on our ongoing Palestine solidarity work.
There was also a Rohingya Photographic Display at the Summer School and we heard from Haikal, a representative of the Rohingya Community in Ireland, who gave a moving account of his experience.