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SF Report & Video On Labor Media In S. Africa&Turkey

Thursday, May 18, 2006
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Type:
Labor Video Project
Location Details:

New College Theater
777 Valencia St/19th St.
San Francisco, CA


Thursday May 18, 2006 7:00 PM

Report On LaborFests &
Labor Media
From South Africa To Turkey

New College Theater
777 Valencia St/19th St.
San Francisco, CA

$3.00 Donation Requested (no one turned away due to lack of funds)
Free to strikers or locked out workers

Join Labor Media Producer Steve Zeltzer as he reports on the struggles in South Africa at an international labormedia conference and on the first Working Class Film and Video Festival in Turkey. Labor videos and media are now being used to build solidarity and education for working people in many countries and the growing use of the communication technology can provide an important vehicle for international labor action. This presentation and video segments will highlight some of these developments.

Sponsored by The Labor Video Project, New College Center for Education & Social Action

For further information call (415)282-1908 or email

Internet & ICTs for Social Justice and Development News
Capetown hosts the 2006 International Labour Communication Meeting
CAPETOWN, South Africa -- In one of the first international labour communication meetings in South Africa, Capetown-based Workers World Media Productions [1] and the International Federation of Workers Education Association (IFWEA) hosted over 50 trade unionists, labour activists and organisers from non-profit organisations between April 4 and 7.


The conference, which was titled "Workers' Education and Workers Media In The Global Economy", focused on how workers can use emerging media and technology in getting their messages out.

Many of the trade unionists were from Africa including Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana as well as South Africa. A critical question debated at the meetings was how to organise labour media when only 5% of the population have electricity in Africa and many workers cannot afford cameras, televisions or telephones.

One important contribution to this question came from an India-based women workers’ organisation called Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA). Namrata Bali and garment worker Shanta Koshti explained how they had trained self-employed women to shoot and edit video. They also demonstrated how they had used mobile generators to show films and videos to workers in their communities, where no electricity exists.

The SEWA members presented an important video on how they used labour media technology to tell the stories of women who work in their homes and as street vendors. This documentary explicited how these women have organised and developed power over their lives using these communication tools.

Dave Spooner, president of IFWEA, reported that he highly values video segments such as SEWA’s one. He said it would be very important for the training of shop stewards from UK’s Trade and General Workers’ Union (T&G) - where he teaches classes - to be able to view video segments from around the world. The need to make this available was important to his work, he said.

Many of the trade unionists from poor countries in Africa were encouraged particularly after seeing the video from SEWA about the use of communication technology that even with little infrastructure and resources, new information and communication technology (ICT) could be used to show their issues and struggles. Part of the discussion was also about the need to defend the democratic rights to bandwidth and to challenge the digital divide so that access to ICTs becomes a fundamental issue in the minds of working people and the labour movement.

One particular highlight of the conference was a labour film festival screening at the hall of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU). Over 275 workers from many unions affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) watched Peter Miller's brilliant documentary "The Internationale" [2] and the film "The Take" [3] by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. Many workers were surprised by the role Argentinean workers have played in taking over their bankrupt factories and running the factories themselves. There have been an epidemic of garment industry closures in the Capetown area and this film showed one avenue of dealing with repeated economic assaults.


Another important discussion was how to use the internet to build labour solidarity and foster more sharing of information. Eric Lee, the founder of encouraged the trade unionists to contact him with articles. He emphasised that he would feature their campaigns and labour rights struggles on the Labourstart website.

Community labour radio and video on the internet was also a topic and both Eric Lee, Martin Jansen and myself encouraged unions to start learning how to do community radio and TV in order to reach broader audiences. The Union Producers and Programmers Network [4]

in the US, Labor Video and have sought to build a labour media movement that would help train and educate working people on how to use the technologies and develop an international labour radio and video channel. Plans were discussed on how to have greater exchange of labour video material and radio programming. Organising international working class film and video festivals in every country and city around the world was one in many ideas that were expanded upon.


Myoung Joon Kim and Jiyoung Lee also discussed the use of community media in South Korea and the need to develop training for working people, women, disabled and others in these community media centres. Kim told the audience that through a democratic activist initiatives these community media centres have spread out from Seoul to other cities. Both media activists are working on a satellite channel at present time.

Plans are being laid out for the upcoming Labortech conference [5] which will be held in San Francisco on November 17, 18 and19, 2006. Workers World Media Production director Jansen was caught as saying that he and others are already producing community labour radio programmes in several languages and they are working to establish a Capetown community media centre that would broadcast programming nationally through the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).


Despite wide differences in access to resources and experience in the use of communication technology, the approach of all participants was to learn from each other and collaborate to build education and knowledge that would benefit all working people.

The conference voted to establish a preparatory committee to plan further organising and it was agreed that all the conference documents would be made available on the internet.

Added to the calendar on Sun, Apr 23, 2006 5:00PM
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