Educators committed to union renewal
The research “Trade union transformation in the digital economy: the case of the Mongolian Federation of Education and Science Trade Unions (FMESU)” sheds light on the challenges facing the trade union related to the impact of digital transition . It examines strategic areas of union transformation and how and why the use of technology could add value to organizing and advocacy efforts in the future.
The report notes that trade union renewal in the education sector is a comprehensive process that includes in part the development of new strategies to reach rank-and-file members, mobilize members and establish effective inward and outward communication by leveraging digital technologies. The current challenges posed by technological advances and digitization require considerable investment and resources from education unions in terms of training and skills upgrading to facilitate the digital transition.
In her opening remarks at the research launch webinar, Education International President Susan Hopgood acknowledged that the research “provides comprehensive and insightful findings on WFEU’s transformation journey. The research, based on an extensive survey, is an effort to understand and respond to the challenges that FMESU faces in its work to represent and protect the rights and interests of teachers.
Hopgood recalled that the 2019 Education International Congress adopted the resolution “Education Union Renewal – The New Imperative” and tasked the EI Executive Board to identify and facilitate opportunities for share the knowledge, expertise and insights of Education International affiliates on union building and union renewal.
She noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the work of education, it has also accelerated and made urgent the need for unions to adapt to new digital technologies, platforms and networks.
Hopgood underlined: “The essential message conveyed by this research is that the project of union renewal requires a shift towards digital, but more than that, the openness and the dialogue, the collaboration and the teamwork enabled by the media digital and Internet communication.
We hope that FMESU will find this work useful in developing their strategies, action plans and evaluation processes for the digital transformation of their organization and union renewal.
Furthermore, we hope that this report will stimulate new thinking and discussion about our broader union renewal project, and lead to more successful and effective interventions on the ground that revitalise, strengthen and enrich the work of teachers’ unions in the whole world.
Also welcoming the participants, FMESU President Tsogtgerel Zambal noted that “based on the recommendations of the study, we are rethinking our strategic planning to improve the work of the union, reflect the interests of its members and meet their needs”.
For Benedikt Ivanovs, country director of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Mongolia, “we will continue to work on the points of concern, but also on the possibilities shown by the research to re-examine the trade union strategy. Our common task is to review the results and bring the recommendations to life. »
Presenting the main findings of the report, researcher Gantuya Ariunsan focused on: WFEU as a union; FMESU and social dialogue; FMESU and the digital economy; and COVID-19 and the future of work in the education sector.
He highlighted recommendations in terms of:
- Organizational development (e.g., automating reporting of implementation and funding of committee action plans and making them available to relevant members as well as reducing manual tasks through automating the member registration process , creating databases, consolidating records and archiving) .
- Professional development of union members (e.g. taking the initiative to create a political environment to address issues such as e-learning, online resources, related copyright issues, digital work and its evaluation, or launch activities to increase the digital competence of human resources in the education sector and help acquire the necessary skills).
- Communication (e.g. introduce sustainable channels to ensure transparency of information at all levels and resolve it through digital platforms or provide a top-down and bottom-up flow of information, reducing the involvement of committee supervisors in the dissemination process information to members).
- Member engagement (for example, hosting a series of events to introduce new members to the benefits of unionization, and changing introductory training content to member-centric content, or making general public and non-employees for information on FMESU and its member activities).
Panel: “Trade Union Renewal – Trade Union Examples”
This presentation was followed by a panel discussion and a sharing of experiences of trade unions in the process of trade union renewal in the Asia-Pacific region. The panel discussion was moderated by FMESU International Secretary Tsetsegmaa Gendenjamts.
Ruby Ana Bernardo from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the Philippines presented her union’s struggle to ensure union organizing and union renewal in times of pandemic and government harassment.
She mentioned that ACT strives to be organized solidly, does its best to always connect with members, develops professional development programs and a recognition program for the most active school districts, and agrees that social media is an increasingly important communication channel.
On leadership issues, she emphasized that ACT values young educators, women’s leadership, sharing of experiences, as well as democratic process and inclusive consultations.
Nitin Kumar, Coordinator of the Union Transformation Project with the Indian Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) explained how union branches in various states have benefited from the potential of information technology to develop and sustain union membership.
He pointed out that members of AIPTF affiliates in the states of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were sharing concepts and ideas on IT infrastructure concepts and ideas (member database, website and application ).
For Nicole Calnan, Deputy Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union, “It’s exciting to be part of and involved in union renewal. We want to ensure the sustainability of our union structures and achieve our strategic objectives. We also want to build strong and powerful trade unions in the region.
The path to follow
In his closing remarks, Anand Singh, Education International’s Chief Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, explained that the aim was to develop a concrete model to strengthen unions and support union renewal in the Asia-Pacific region.
FMESU President, Tsogtgerel Zambal, closed the webinar by saying, “We hope that the research ‘Trade Union Transformation in the Digital Economy: The Case of FMESU, Mongolia’ will be relevant not only for Mongolia, but also for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Region”.