Given the history of oppression and the continuing hostility from many employers, this is a remarkable achievement, and reflects the determination of workers to exercise their new rights to associate, organise and negotiate. Many of them are young factory workers struggling to improve their wages and conditions of employment which, for many, are at exploitative levels.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) quickly developed a programme to promote and support the new freedom of association rights which includes an awareness raising campaign with education and advice for workers, government officials and employers. However, the core of the programme has been bi-partite training workshops for the leaders of the new unions and their employers.
The new union leaders have taken up the opportunity to learn with enthusiasm, from the first major workshop in July last year attended by almost 300 people. To date more than 2,000 people have attended ILO workshops, with the two key leaders from each union being provided with the opportunity to attend the two-day basic training workshop.