Flor de Maria Avellan of Nicaraguan trade union, the CTCP, will speak in Mold next week. In July, David McKnight met with the union’s General Secretary, Adrian Martinez Rodriguez, to find out more about the CTCP.
What is the CTCP?
The CTCP is a new kind of political, social expression within the FNT [Nicaragua’s TUC]. We’re not only struggling for traditional trade union rights but for political power. If we’re not in spaces to influence policy or political power then we’re not going to move forward. A lot of trade unions don’t understand this, especially the European trade unions. We’ve learned to occupy spaces to change things.
We are not an association, not an NGO because we are workers! And we have to fight for the right to be a trade union. The FNT is becoming strong and is active in formulating policy. The CTCP has been key in getting an understanding of what it really means to be a trade union.
You work with street sellers, in the informal sector?
We don’t like using the term ‘informal sector workers’. It has a pejorative connotation and is a loaded term. We’re not business people but people who are generating wealth. A lot of us have been sacked by businesses! And lost rights that we would have had in the formal sector, for example with collective bargaining or social security. Many of our members are in the streets and have had little education. The openings for them to survive are quite minimal.
When were you set up?
The FNT took the decision to organise in this sector in 2002. We now have 58,000 members of the CTCP, organised into 106 local unions and 8 federations.
The key area for us is the struggle against poverty, inlellectual poverty and material poverty. So we have an education and training programme and a credit and savings cooperative. Our members can’t get credit from banks. There are micro credit organisations but they ask for 38% interest! It is important that our members have their own source of credit. The training is to improve productivity and education levels as they need to be able to compete in labour and commercial terms. The training programme includes the following: Food preparation; Hairdressing; Managing finance; Studying the market/market research. It can be really difficult for our members due to the pressures of time. The days they don’t work, there’s no food in the house. It’s the sector that has created some level of stability in the country but the workers don’t necessarily recognise this.
Their lives are very difficult and historically a lot have workers have migrated in search of a better life. It is the sector with the highest levels of family breakdown which creates the phenomenon of child labour. We have been working with one thousand children who work at the traffic lights. We have a wider programme which will mean we can also work with many more children in future. But it’s not just about working with the children, it’s necessary to work with the whole family. These problems are all the results of neoliberalism and part of the struggle is to address this situation. We also focus on citizen security and we are working with the police on this.
The capitalist system extracts wealth from people and it just does not work for the majority. The people who produce wealth are the workers. We are members of the global federation for informal sector workers. Sandra Flores is our representative at the ILO and the Latin American Network of Workers in the Informal Sector. We are trying to establish an alternative market and fair prices for things like natural medicines and crafts. We are working to organise individual workers into cooperatives, and trying to incorporate this sector of workers into the social security system and make this sector more visible.
How big is the sector?
In the 2005 census, there were 1.5 million ‘informal sector’ workers. Work is hard in this sector. Workers need to work for 14 hours per day just to survive. They put in a 6am to 8pm shift. Their contribution to GDP is estimated at 45% (study by Orlando Nunez). A key part of the Sandinista government strategy is to incorporate people from this sector into the government’s social programmes. The education system needs to be reformed so that it actually corresponds to the National Development Plan. There should be greater coherence in the whole education system. This is currently being discussed by the government. The whole idea is to create a new ministry, MEFCCA. All small producers are being integrated into this wider ministry.
What role do women play in the union?
The majority of people on the executive are now women. We have a women’s committee, a secretariat of women within the executive and all local unions have some kind of secretariat for women.
Women who work in this sector tend to be women who take less care of their health. This is due to a lack of education but also a lack of time. We are working with the ministry of health and four universities in Nicaragua to complete a health study on the effects of working in the street.
(Thanks to Chris Petersen for the street vendors photos)
Dyma’r taflen i’n cyfarfod cyhoeddus gyda Flor de Maria Avellan Martinez o’r CTCP ym mis Medi. Cwrddodd aelod yr Ymgyrch, David McKnight, gyda Flor y mis diwethaf ym Managua.
Here’s the leaflet for our public meeting with Flor de Maria Avellan Martinez of the CTCP trade union, in September. A Campaign member, David McKnight, met with Flor de Maria last month in Managua.
On the 19th July, hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans packed the Plaza de La Fe in Managua to celebrate the overthrow of the dictator, Somoza, thirty six years ago.
Wales NSC joined in the celebrations along with delegations from European solidarity groups and socialist and communist parties from across Latin America.
President Daniel Ortega addressed the crowd, and spoke of the many achievements of the Sandinista government over the past year. Ortega highlighted Nicaragua’s economic and social progress as well as the continued need for regional integration in the face of US imperial ambitions.
The Vice Presidents of Cuba and Venezuela also addressed the crowds. Deafening cheers were reserved for special guests of honour, the recently released Cuban Five – Los Cinco Heroes.
Other guests included Manuel Zelaya, the former president of Honduras and Guatemalan author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu.
As part of the encuentro, the delegates will also join in the huge celebrations marking the 36th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution, which falls on July 19th.
David will be joining members of our sister organisation, the London-based Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and comrades from solidarity groups from across Europe, all of whom have been invited to the event by the Frente Sandinista Liberacion Nacional (FSLN).
The encuentro is the third in a series of meetings between European solidarity organisations and the FSLN. The first was held in Barcelona in 2013, and last year the second encuentro was held in Rome.
The seventy delegates (from Wales, England, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Spain, Catalunya and Belgium are joined by others from the USA, and various Latin American countries), will visit social programmes of the Sandinista government (many of which have been supported with cooperation from the ALBA countries including Cuba and Venezuela), discuss social and economic progress in Nicaragua and further strengthen international solidarity with the country and the region.
In addition, David and members of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign will meet with our friends from UNE, the Nicaraguan public sector workers’ union, (and sister union of UNISON in the UK). The group will also meet with members and representatives of the CTCP, the Nicaraguan informal sector workers union and begin discussions with key activists in the cooperative movement, in preparation for the 2016 Wales NSC delegation.
Next Monday and Tuesday (June 29/30) Fatima Ismael, head of coffee co-operative SOPPEXCCA, will visit Cardiff as part of a UK tour. She will be meeting representatives of Fairtrade Wales, the Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, grassroots fairtrade campaigners, as well as visiting the National Assembly and a fairtrade shop.
In February members of Wales NSC visited SOPPEXCCA, which provides the coffee for the campaign’s own brand, tecafé. They spoke to Fatima on the trip. She explained the benefit women receive from the coffee and its unique unpaid labour premium, and stressed why fairtrade is more important then ever.
How does the premium for unpaid labour in the tecafé price benefit women?
The premium for unpaid labour has enabled us to invest in processes, build capacity and raise awareness amongst the women involved in the co-operative. We have also supported a co-operative of women workers who do not have land, so the only option for them is to work in the dry mill where the coffee processing takes place. (Since they don’t have land to grow produce) the only option for them is to sell their labour force. This co-operative of women workers runs a shop that stocks basic provisions which are sold to members at cheaper prices. It also runs a savings plan for the women. UCA SOPPEXCA , with the premium for unpaid labour, supports and strengthens the co-operative and its activities.
Why do you think it is important to recognise the unpaid work of women? Why do you think consumers should pay an additional premium over and above the price of (Fairtrade) coffee?
Well, the premium that is charged on tecafé-branded coffee helps to compensate for the unpaid labour of women and the concept of this premium is something that should be more widely promoted and applied. We are re-vindicating women’s rights. For centuries we have been marginalised and our work dehumanised in the coffee industry and other rural industries, whether we have been involved in the production processes or other daily operations. So, in a way, paying a premium for the unpaid labour humanises the work of those women who are involved in the entire coffee production chain, whether they be a producer, or a producer’s wife, partner or daughter or any other worker.
Have you got a mesage for Fairtrade supporters in Wales?
The message from UCA SOPPEXCA, and indeed from Nicaragua, is that we really need to promote, grow and multiply the number of Fair Trade consumers because our producers are once again in a deep crisis caused by the effects of climate change. Climatic changes have affected our co-operative’s growth. I wish to get across to all our supporters in the UK that we need them now more than ever before. Fair Trade has made a real difference to our organisation and it has had such a positive impact – we have grown and improved; but we need your continued solidarity and for more people to be aware of and support the Fair Trade concept so that we can continue to support the groups of small-scale producers.
Dydd Llun a dydd Mawrth nesa (Mehefin 29/30), bydd Fatima Ismael, pennaeth y co-op coffi, SOPPEXCCA, yn ymweld â Chaerdydd, fel rhan o’i hymweliad â Phrydain. Bydd yn cyfarfod cynrychiolwyr o Masnach Deg Cymru, Prif Weithredwr Canolfan Gyd-weithredol Cymru, ymgyrchwyr masnach deg yn ogystal ag ymweld â’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol a siop masnach deg.
Ym mis Chwefror, aeth aelodau o NSC Cymru i ymweld â SOPPEXCCA, sydd yn darparu coffi i frand yr ymgyrch, tecafé. Cawsant gyfle i siarad efo Fatima ar y daith. Eglurodd Fatima am y budd gaiff gwragedd o’r coffi a’r premiwm llafur di-dâl unigryw, gan bwysleisio pam mae masnach deg cyn bwysiced ag erioed.
Sut mae’r premiwm am lafur di-dâl ym mhris tecafé yn fanteisiol i ferched?
Mae’r premiwm am lafur di-dâl wedi ein galluogi i fuddsoddi yn y prosesau, a chodi ymwybyddiaeth ymysg merched sy’n gweithio gyda’r co-op. Rydym hefyd wedi cefnogi co-op o weithwyr merched sydd heb dir, felly yr unig ddewis iddynt hwy yw gweithio yn y felin sych lle mae’r prosesu coffi yn digwydd. Gan nad oes ganddynt dir i dyfu cynnyrch, eu hunig ddewis yw gwerthu eu llafur. Mae’r co-op merched yma yn rhedeg siop sydd yn cadw nwyddau hanfodol gaiff ei gwerthu i aelodau am brisiau rhatach. Mae hefyd yn gofalu am gynllun cynilo ar gyfer merched. Mae UCA SOPPEXCA , efo premiwm am lafur di-dâl, yn cefnogi a chryfhau y co-op efo’i weithgareddau.
Pam ydych chi’n credu ei bod yn bwysig cydnabod gwaith di-dâl merched. Pam ydych chi’n credu y dylai prynwyr dalu premiwm ychwanegol tuag at bris coffi (masnach deg)?
Wel, mae’r premiwm gaiff ei godi ar goffi tecafé yn gymorth i wneud iawn am lafur di-dâl merched, ac mae cysyniad y premiwm hwn yn rhywbeth ddylid ei hybu. Rydym yn cadarnhau hawliau merched. Am genedlaethau, rydym wedi cael ein gwthio i’r neilltu, ac mae ein gwaith wedi ei iselhau yn y fasnach goffi a gweithfeydd gwledig eraill, p’un ai ydym wedi ein cynnwys yn y broses gynhyrchu neu mewn gweithgareddau dyddiol eraill.
Felly, mae talu premiwm am lafur di-dâl yn dangos parch at waith merched sydd yn ymwneud â’r broses gyfan o gynhyrchu coffi, boed hwy’n gynhyrchwyr ei hunain, yn briod â chynhyrchydd, yn gymar, yn ferch neu yn unrhyw weithiwr arall.
Oes gennych chi neges i gefnogwr masnach deg yng Nghymru?
Y neges gan UCA SOPPEXCA, ac yn wir o Nicaragua, yw fod gwirioneddol angen i atgyfnerthu a chynyddu nifer y cwsmeriaid masnach deg gan fod ein cynhyrchwyr mewn argyfwng dwys eto oherwydd newid yn yr hinsawdd. Mae’r newid hwn yn yr hinsawdd wedi dylanwadu ar dwf ein cyd-weithfa. Rydw i am bwysleisio i’n holl gefnogwyr ym Mhrydain ein bod angen ei cefnogaeth yn fwy nag erioed. Mae Masnach Deg wedi gwneud cymaint o wahaniaeth i’n mudiad, ac wedi cael y fath effaith gadarnhaol – rydym wedi ehangu a gwella; ond yr ydym angen eich cefnogaeth o hyd. Rydym am i fwy o bobl ddod yn ymwybodol o Fasnach Deg a chefnogi’r syniad fel y gallwn barhau i gefnogi grwpiau o gynhyrchwyr bychan.
Mis Chwefror 2016
Bydd ein taith nesaf i Nicaragua yn dra gwahanol. ‘Rydym wedi gosod thema y tro hwn, sef economi cydweithredol Nicaragua. Mae’r diddordeb mewn cydweithfeydd yn tyfu, yn Nicaragua ac yng Nghymru. Ers 2007 a Llywodraeth newydd y Sandinistas, mae nifer o gydweithfeydd wedi cynyddu o 1,500 i dros 4,500.
Mae gan Nicaragua hanes o gefnogi cydweithfeydd, ers y Chwyldro ym 1979. Mae gan lawer o’r cydweithfeydd masnach deg eu gwreiddiau ym mrwydr yr 80au. Un ohonynt yw SOPPEXCCA, sy’n darparu coffi’r ymgyrch, tecafé, drwy gydweithfa merched masnach deg organig. Mae’r ymgyrch yn credu mai tecafé yw’r coffi tecaf yng Nghymru (gweler fan hyn a fan hyn).
Yn ogystal ag ymweld â chynhyrchwyr yn Jinotega, byddwn ni’n cael cyfarfodydd gyda’r prosiectau bwyd cydweithredol, fel y rhaglen zero hambre (dim llwgu) a phatios saludos (prosiect iard gefn iachus), sy’n sefydlu cydweithfeydd fel rhan o’i gwaith. Hefyd, byddwn yn trefnu cyfarfodydd gyda mudiadau sy’n gyfrifol am gefnogi cydweithfeydd, a’r weinyddiaeth sy’n canolbwyntio ar ddatblygu’r sector, MEFCCA (Gweinyddiaeth Teuluoedd a’r Economi Cydweithredol – gweler fan hyn).
Bydd y daith yn darparu amser i weld pa wahaniaeth mae’r economi cydweithredol yn gallu ei wneud i’r tlotaf mewn cymdeithas, a chymaru’r sefyllfa yn ôl yng Nghymru (gweler fan hyn).
Byddwn ni’n treulio amser ar Arfordir y Mor Tawel ac Arfordir y Caribi, yn cynnwys Bluefields, lle mae’r Ymgyrch yn cefnogi prosiect cerddorol cymunedol.
Byddwn ni’n gorffen y daith yn Granada, i ymlacio! Granada yw dinas harddaf Nicaragua, gyda phensaerniaeth eithriadol ar lannau Llyn Cocibolca, ac yng nghysgod llosgfynydd Mombacho. Bydd cyfle hefyd i fwynhau golygfeydd trawiadol lagŵn folcanaidd Apoyo.
Y costau am y bythefnos gyfan yw £600, sydd yn cynnwys llety, bwyd a theithio o fewn y wlad. Bydd angen talu am y tocyn awyren hefyd. Ar hyn o bryd, maent rhwng £600 a £700, a gallwn helpu i’w archebu.
Byddwn hefyd yn trefnu dydd paratoi i’r grŵp cyn y daith. Bydd hyn o gymorth i chi gael y budd mwyaf o’r ymweliad. ¡ Buen viaje!