The 4th sub-regional conference of the EI Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure (ACCRS) held in Tunis, Tunisia, from 12-13 December 2018, focused on democracy and union rights.
Participants re-affirmed that a stronger and united Arab education trade union movement is key element of achieving genuine democracy in the region. They also discussed the reality of trade union rights in relation to international labour standards and conventions, and how these issues influence education and unions in the region.
Experiences from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon and South Africa were shared, and participants emphasised that the independent education trade union movement has been struggling for decades under the most difficult circumstances for respect of freedom of association and the right to organise, as well as to defend fundamental rights at the work place and in society.
Education union activists are facing campaigns of repression and exclusion in the region. Participants condemned oppressive practices and the impact on education workers’ interests, the growing social differences, and increased unemployment and precarious forms of employment.
To overcome these challenges and failed national education policies, the education unions in Arab countries find themselves facing new responsibilities requiring them to be closer to the grassroots level. They also need to increase solidarity and promote unity and joint action, especially in Bahrain, Mauritania and Yemen.
A session on the recruitment and retention of young members also took place, where participants stressed the importance of recruiting young members and benefiting from their energy, enthusiasm and perspectives.
Participants further agreed on key work priorities for the upcoming two years and assessed and evaluated the implementation of the SDGs in the Arab region. They recommended looking for ways to: make the teaching profession more attractive; use ICT more effectively as a tool to improve classroom teaching and other innovative teaching methods. They called for the support of education unions and children in Mauritania and Yemen. They underlined the need to evaluate progress made by EI member organisations in the region towards achieving the EI programmes/objectives/resolutions, and called for the creation of a regional human rights observatory to monitor education trade unions rights violations.
Ensuring quality terms of employment and working conditions in ACCRS countries
Consultations were conducted among member organisations in the EI ACCRS to understand and reflect their experiences, good practices and challenges related to employment and working conditions in the region.
These consultations focused on employment and working conditions and what could be done to keep and improve their policies with a focus on recruitment processes, licensing and credentials, probation and induction, workload, academic freedom, job security, social security and social dialogue. Discussions also covered career progression, in-service training, pedagogical support, and salaries and incentives for the teaching profession.
They provided aplatform to exchange best practices and policies related to decent work and employment conditions among member organisations in the ACCRS region, and compare them to international standards on decent work and working conditions in the teaching profession worldwide.