Solidarity was the key issue when the first trade union associations were founded, and it remains the main idea of a union. Every day, our union work at higher education institutes is about solidarity. Together, we pursue issues that benefit our members as a group. Whenever someone is treated badly or does not receive what they are entitled according to laws and agreements, we act. The problems of the individual are our shared problems. Our unity gives us strength and adds greater force to our views.
SULF is also an active participant in international efforts within the framework of Education International, EI, which is a global federation of teachers’ unions. Recently, SULF attended the tenth world conference for trade unions that organise teachers and researchers in higher education, which was held in Accra, Ghana. Among the issues discussed was how we should collaborate to achieve the United Nations’ sustainability goals. EI has successfully pushed for one of the UN goals to be quality education for all. Together, we will continue to fight for this issue.
Along with our Nordic and African friends, SULF also hosted a seminar on gender equality in the academic world. Despite differing experiences from different parts of the world, the women and men who attended the seminar were able to see that academic structures and outdated gender stereotypes are common problems that need to be addressed if we are to move forward with gender equality in academia. All decisions and policies, both within our unions and in society in general, need to be analysed from a gender perspective. SULF has already introduced a gender impact assessment in all our consultation responses to the government, and we must also do this at all levels within our own organisation. Working side by side, men and women can build an egalitarian society with the right for everyone to contribute.
There are many countries in which our colleagues are not permitted to work freely. This applies both to academic freedom and the right to belong to a union. A drastic deterioration has occurred for our Turkish colleagues in recent months. EI works actively to push for improved conditions in countries where the principle of academic freedom and the ILO resolutions on decent work and the right to organise are being violated. The conference adopted a statement against the persecution in Turkey.
The conference was also able to welcome Miguel Angel Beltrán from Colombia. He was sentenced to several years in prison because both his research and trade union activities were perceived as a threat by the Colombian government. Although he was finally exonerated, with the aid of active solidarity from organisations such as EI, he had difficulty getting out of Colombia to attend the conference.
Through solidarity, we have achieved the good working conditions we have in Sweden today. Through solidarity, we will ensure that we continue to enjoy them tomorrow. Through solidarity, we will help others to gain improvements, and through solidarity, we will receive help when we need it.
Second Vice President, SULF