AfroFIA meeting in Johannesburg, April 2013
Fifteen delegates from the African group of the International Federation of Actors (AfroFIA) met in Johannesburg from April 30 to May 1, 2013. The meeting, kindly hosted by SAGA, gathered representatives from eight different African countries and a representative of the Swedish LO/TCO.
Several key subjects have been discussed including the recent holding of the DISCOPRO Africa international event, the increasing FIA’s membership in Africa, the possible organisation of a World Live Performance Conference, gender equality and last but not least the questions linked to the ratification and implementation of the WIPO Beijing treaty. Discussions have been enthusiastic and open.
The meeting was also the occasion to provide an overview of the ending triennial project, which brought some interesting achievements, including the prolific cooperation between SCAS in Cameroun and French FIA member SFA. A future 2014-2016 project was also discussed. The group will likely engage in a mixed project combining the twinning of two AfroFIA unions with two other FIA affiliates from Europe, with a set of national workshops for the remaining six countries.
Meeting of the AFRO-FIA Group, October 2008
The AFRO-FIA group of FIA was well represented at the recent FIA Congress in Marrakesh in October 2008. This was of course the first FIA Congress to be held on the African Continent, which made it a historic moment for the Federation. It was an important opportunity for the group to meet. While there has been some contact between some of the AFRO-FIA member unions over the past four years since Budapest (for example within the framework of meetings on the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity), there had been no meeting of the group in that time. This is a scenario the group is anxious to avoid in the coming four years before the 2012 Congress and FIA will do its utmost to support them in this.
A meeting report of the Marrakesh meeting was prepared by the group coordinator, Joe Mboule from Cameroon and is available for download in English and French below.
Meeting Report, AFRO-FIA Group, Marrakesh October 2008
An overview of the group and its activities
The Afro-FIA group can only meet sporadically, given the very high costs of travelling in the continent and the many obstacles making it overly complicated for union delegates to gather regularly. The group last met in 2004 during the 18th FIA Congress in Budapest, where it actively contributed to the shaping of FIA’s new priorities of action. Issues on health and safety, the mobility of artists and trade union organising were widely debated. Performers in Africa face a very precarious situation, as they often work without contracts, with no social security and a miserable revenue – when they are fortunate enough to be paid at all. Their unions have almost no resources, while employers refuse to organise and continue to thrive on a widespread amateurism, making it harder to organise the sector and to raise the overall terms and conditions of employment of professional performers. Even where unions exist, they are mainly concentrated in capitals, with little outreach to more remote parts of the country, due to vast geographical distances and poor infrastructures. Despite these incredible difficulties, our colleagues are fully engaged in a militant battle to resist the tide, secure a more decent living for performers in their countries and build a more professional entertainment industry.
Their presence at our last Congress was a fabulous opportunity to convey their energy to delegates coming from all over the world, as well as a chance for the Africans to learn from the experience of our most-established affiliates in other continents.
In an attempt to ease the north-south gap between performers’ unions, FIA operates regular workshops with external funding flowing from different sources but mainly from national trade union centres. Seminars have so far taken place in Accra (Ghana), in Rabat (Morocco), Lagos (Nigeria) and Douala (Cameroon). Others may soon follow, depending on the availability of additional financial support.
In addition to this, FIA also encourages the establishment of bilateral “twinning agreements” between one union in the West and one in Africa. These agreements make it possible to establish long term, mutually enriching relationships between our members, helping African unions develop appropriate strategies to increase their leverage in the industry. Until now, two such agreements have seen the light, one between Canadian Actors’ Equity and ORUUANO in Namibia, the other between American Equity and NATAAZ in Zambia. Among the practical benefits delivered so far are union local staff training, tailored model contracts and agreements and, more generally, targeted advice and expertise. Other twinning agreements will no doubt follow, as more unions join the FIA solidarity call and agree to help.