Enhancing democratic learning among union members in rural South Africa

Countries: South Africa

Partners: Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) and The Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)

Allocated amount: DKK 443.350

Project start: 15/09/2022 Project end: 15/03/2023

The agricultural workers union CSAAWU organises rural workers from across the value chain. The union is based on democratic principles and a social empowerment approach that seeks to uplift and empower not only the individual worker, but working class communities as a whole, and given its democratic basis and membership rule, the union will take centre stage in this democratisation project. As an important building block stands the union congress set to be held in November this year. The congress is an integral component of the union’s democratic structure, and is, due to covid, long overdue. It has the potential to bring together the collective of workers and reinvigorate the democratic process and discussion within the union. However, due to limited funds, the congress would only be quite small and basic and without specialised efforts for inclusion and true democratic learning, if not for this intervention. As such, the purpose of this project is to build on the momentum of the pending union congress and use it to thoroughly boost participation, not only in numbers, but in quality of participation. The intervention will seek to rebuild and reinvigorate democratic morale within the union, support workers in understanding the democratic structures, and empower them to participate meaningfully and deeply in democratic decision making, collectively and individually – and as a result, enable them to participate in other democratic fora as well. Special care will be given to ensure the participation of women, migrants and seasonal workers in this process to strengthen the inclusivity of more marginalised segments of the workforce into the union and ensure equal access to decision-making fora. 

Development objective:

Capacitating union members, specifically precarious workers, to understand and meaningfully participate in the union democracy.

Immediate objectives:

The intervention builds on four immediate objectives: 

Outcome 1: Workers and prospective workers, including the most precarious groups of workers, have gained knowledge on the union democracy as well as insights on how they can themselves participate. 

Outcome 2: Workers, including the most precarious workers, have had opportunities to gain practical experience of the union democracy and have participated in decision making on issues pertaining to their everyday lives.

Outcome 3: Workers are engaged in implementation of democratic union decisions in their local communities and are able and willing to continue their involvement in the local union democracy. 

Outcome 4: Female workers, including seasonal female workers, have opportunity to frame gender-sensitive resolutions.

Target groups:

The target group of this project consists of members of the community-based trade union CSAAWU as well as prospective new members from the rural communities of the project. The secondary target group is comprised of the rural communities as wholes.