Meeting with the Construction Union Leadership of Kerala

DELEGATION LEADERS MEET INDIAN OFFICIALS

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L-R: New York Carpenter Amanda Kay Johnson; BWI South Asia Projects Director Rajeev Sharma; Portland, OR Carpenter and Business Representative at Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters Amber McCoy; High Court of Kerala Justice Abdul Rahim; San Francisco Electrician and alumna of the 2017 Building Bridges Delegation Noreen Buckley

After leaving Archana Women’s Centre, the Building Bridges Delegation returned to the city of Kochi (കേരളം) for two days of meetings with the leadership and members of the the Kerala Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Congress (KKNTC). KKNTC is the largest construction workers union in Kerala. The visit was co-hosted by the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI). The BWI is “the Global Union Federation grouping free and democratic unions with members in the Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors.

Meeting the KKNTC and BWI members and leaders

Amber McCoy, Oregon Carpenter and Rep at Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters

The Building Bridges Delegation was joined in Kochi by BWI leadership in India, Rajeev Sharma and Prerna Prasad. Rajeev was instrumental in organizing our Kochi schedule. Meeting Rajeev and Prerna was very exciting for Amanda Kay Johnson and myself as they both know and have worked closely with our friends, Jane, Mheanne, and Bench who are affiliated with BWI in the Philippines.

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Delegation welcomed to BWI headquarters in Kochi, Kerala

Our expanded group met and exchanged with women and a few men that are members of Kerala Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Congress (KKNTC) at a local office and out in the field. KKNTC also graciously welcomed us to their 46th Annual General Council Meeting. Communication was aided by Tony who, lucky for us, stepped up at the last minute to translate for us to help out a friend.

Delegates visited KKNTC women masons, carpenters and helpers on four jobsites

KKNTC is affiliated with the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) at the national level and Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) at the global level. Current membership of KKNTC is 69,716 (Men – 42,738 and Women – 26,978).  Women are active in Union leadership, and at the district level. Women are approximately 40% of the leadership.

At the General Council Meeting we were received by over 2,500 Union leaders. ef94fd40-fb74-4a48-81e9-57b87acb06a8

We exchanged honorary gifts and Amanda Kay Johnson did an amazing job of addressing the group on the behalf of the Building Bridges Delegation. Click here to view Amanda’s speech.amanda speech

As a whole I was excited to see how large Union meetings the world over are very similar and I was honored to be invited to be a part of their Annual meeting.

The visit of the 2019 North American Building Bridges Delegation received media coverage in the press and on television across Kerala. Following up on the first Building Bridges Delegation in 2017, we continued the work to build the international network of women working in the construction trades , a network to support women across the globe entering the skilled trades and to promote the goal that ALL women working in construction have the right to decent pay and safe working conditions. 

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About susanmoir2015

Researcher, feminist, labor activist.
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