·  Media Release   ·  

In June, Steelworkers Humanity Fund Provided $15,000 to Organizations to Support Workers Affected by COVID-19

TORONTO – During the month of June, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) contributed $15,000 to organizations in Mexico and Colombia to address the emergency needs of workers and communities affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Over the last weeks, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic has moved to Latin America, a region known for its high levels of inequality. With national social safety nets in a shamble due to decades of neoliberal policies, some the most impoverished populations of those countries are disproportionately exposed to the virus and have no choice but to rely on the weak public health infrastructure. In this context, funds provided by Steelworkers members through the Steelworkers Humanity Fund will help people most excluded cope with the pandemic.

In Mexico, the SHF, with the special support of several Steelworkers local unions in District 5, have joined other Québec-based organizations to support its long-time labour partner the Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) in providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and food baskets for workers in the garbage recycling sector. While they play an important role in the country’s informal economy, those commonly known as pepenadores are entirely left out of public policies, and have to face the dilemma of exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19 or going hungry, on a daily basis.

In Colombia’s Department of El Cesar, 250 families that are part of a network of victims of paramilitary forces have received food baskets from SHF partner Corporación Trabajadores por la Tierra, as government-imposed confinement measures have made them even more vulnerable to food insecurity. For example, strict restrictions on mobility have forced many of the victims’ families to abandon the small plots of land on which they depended for their monthly income and food.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left workers and entire communities to fend for themselves, with very little or no government assistance. In this context, the little support we provide goes a long way, giving people a chance to overcome this acute crisis,” said Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers and President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

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.


For further information:

Ken Neumann, President, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-544-5951
Doug Olthuis, Executive Director, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-859-9953, dolthuis@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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