Over the month of July, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) contributed $42,800 to organizations in Colombia, Peru, Madagascar, Guatemala and Palestine to address the needs of communities impacted by the effects of coronavirus on local economies.
Around the world, COVID mobility restrictions and lockdowns have created unwanted consequences, especially in impoverished and vulnerable populations. To address this, the SHF, through funds contributed by Steelworkers members, are supporting those who are most excluded overcome the dramatic effects of the pandemic.
In Madagascar, the mining town of Fort-Dauphin is under lockdown, but large sectors of the population have no choice but to continue travelling to the markets to offer their products without taking the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves or others from the virus. The SHF’s two local union partners, Syndicalisme et Vie des Sociétés (SVS) and Sendika Kritianina Malagasy (SEKRIMA), are providing basic protective equipment as well as food baskets to help families survive the economic crisis.
The SHF has joined efforts with other Canadian unions to provide 1,000 families of the Occupied Palestinian Territories with a basket of food staples. In Guatemala’s highlands, the Highlands Peasant Committee (CCDA) will provide emergency relief to communities in the area, the majority of which already suffer from chronic poverty, malnutrition, lack of access to water and health services.
In Colombia, the SHF partnered with the Coalition of Movements and Social Organizations of Colombia (COMOSOC) to set up two community kitchens in impoverished neighborhoods of Bogotá, allowing 80 families access to a lunch five days a week for two months. Finally, in the Peruvian Amazon, the Federation of Kukama Women will mainly use the funds to provide its seven board members with a new cell phone and airtime, crucial for the co-ordination of its activities with women during the pandemic.
According to Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers and President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, "The longer-term effects of COVID-19 will be felt strongly around the world by the most vulnerable. Steelworkers are ready to respond to emerging needs, as should the Canadian government. In the Steelworkers' pre-budget submission to the Department of Finance, we have called for an immediate $2-billion increase in aid to address COVID."
The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that promotes respect for human rights and contributes to development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, as well as supporting Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions.
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Ken Neumann, President, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-544-5951
Doug Olthuis, Executive Director, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-859-9953, email@example.com
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org