On the sidelines of the International Labour Conference, PSI is hearing stories of unionists from across the world, fighting for their most basic workers’ rights. Interview with Santiago Yupe Perén, Secretary General of the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Instituto de Fomento Municipal (SITRAINFOM), Guatemala.
Have you ever attended the ILC before?
No, it's the first time, although I've been involved with the trade union movement for almost 20 years now. With respect to my union, we have been affiliated to PSI for only three years. As we are currently in charge of PSI Coordination in Guatemala, it was agreed with the workers and the trade unions that I would represent them here in Geneva.
What are your impressions so far?
It has been interesting to learn first-hand how the global mechanism for negotiations works. It is a place where parties come together to make decisions, to give viability to processes, in a very similar way to how employers and unions carry out collective bargaining. Ultimately, it is interesting to observe such practices that, at the ILC, establish processes that keep the peace in areas of conflict.
You come from Guatemala, but actually, your intervention was on the case of Honduras...
Yes, we did not expect to be removed from the list. But regardless of this, as we represent the public servants and particularly PSI, we stood in solidarity with our comrades and the Honduran people. In addition, we are neighbors and they are suffering the same situation as we face in Guatemala, namely persecution, murders, and absence of collective bargaining and freedom of association. We also believe that the same model was set up in the region to silence us and to make sure workers' rights do not find a safe haven.
What will you do back home?
We will demand that the commission formed in Guatemala, based on the tripartite agreement which was reached, receives full support and becomes stronger until the point it actually exists and doesn't remain purely theoretical.
What will you take from the ILC?
I will become a facilitator of this whole process and share my experience with my fellow unionists. I will explain to them how a commission is formed, how representatives are elected, how the discussions are carried out in each of the committees.
How important is PSI in this whole process?
PSI plays a vital role. If we had come to the ILC without a guide, without any kind of orientation on how to make the necessary lobbying, things would have been much more difficult.