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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

World AIDS Day: IUF African Seminars Focus on Union Workplace Action

Posted to the IUF website 30-Nov-2004

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To coincide with World AIDS Day, the IUF is organizing two major sub-regional seminars for affiliates in Africa, in Niamey, Niger from November 29 - Dec 1 and in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania December 6-7. The workshops will concentrate on building the capacity of IUF-affiliated unions to deal effectively with the impact of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Of the more than 35 million persons currently infected with the HIV virus, 26 million are workers. By next year, the epidemic will have eliminated from the global work force some 28 million workers. In the absence of improved access to medical treatment, this number will increase to 48 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2015. The impact is particularly devastating in countries (e.g. most of Africa) where women are primarily responsible for subsistence farming. The epidemic is thus seriously undermining food security. According to a 2003 FAO study, some 7 million African agricultural workers had already been killed by AIDS, with an additional 16 million deaths anticipated in the next two decades.

Participants in the IUF workshops will be addressing among other issues the specific gender impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, given the high number of young women and children in the agricultural workforce. Unions increasingly confront problems arising from the growing number of AIDS orphans on farms and plantations and ways must be found to protect these highly vulnerable children from exploitation.

IUF policy stresses the importance of HIV/AIDS in collective bargaining and other appropriate fora with employers to ensure adequate training and preventive measures and no discrimination against those infected with the virus. To this end, the workshops will study in detail the ILO's code of conduct on HIV/AIDS and develop concrete plans for unions to implement the code in the workplace.