Union Leaders from 20 Countries Discuss COVID-19 Impact On Pulp and Paper Sector in Online Meeting

Over 80 pulp and paper sector union officials from 20 countries participated in a July 22 virtual meeting on “COVID-19: Impacts, Approaches and Responses.”

Opening remarks from USW Vice President Leeann Foster, chair of the IndustriALL global pulp and paper sector, highlighted the challenges the industry is facing due to COVID-19, but also the opportunities created through responses to a crisis.

This is the time, she said, to get involved and engaged with safety and health issues happening in the workplace because of COVID-19. One of the ways to do this is through IndustriALL’s “Right to Know, Right to Act, Right to Participate” global action.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan followed with remarks highlighting the impact COVID-19 continues to have on the global economy.

Pictured: Eighty officials from 20 countries meet for a global pulp & paper meeting to discuss COVID-19 crisis and its impacts on our industry.

Issues like government, business or household debt still greatly influence the global economy. Along with the COVID-19 crisis, other important worldwide issues, like gender and racial inequality, also demand attention, he said. Özkan said labor needs to embrace these concerns because they are union issues and need global recognition.

While the pandemic negatively impacts the pulp and paper industry, its effect on this sector is less compared to other industries.

Tom Grinter, chair of the IndustriALL global pulp and paper sector, detailed the impact of COVID-19 globally and within the pulp and paper sector.

Participants discussed the “Right to Know, Right to Act, Right to Participate” global action through the sharing of various posters, stickers and flyers that were distributed globally and will be again in the future. 

Union officials and affiliate leaders from countries such as Brazil, Australia, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom shared information on COVID-19’s impact, and their approaches and responses to the pandemic within their respective countries, workplaces and affiliate trade unions. 

Foster closed the meeting by reminding everyone that they rose to the challenges COVID-19 presented while still continuing to do the hard work of the union.

“We are still striking, we are still organizing, and we are fighting to keep our members safe and healthy,” she said. “Thank you to everyone involved.”

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