The Solidarity Center helps strengthen Yemeni trade unions and professional associations by focusing on collective bargaining, strategic planning, and health and safety initiatives in the transportation, construction, energy, and education sectors.
Located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, the Republic of Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Yemen confronts high unemployment, poverty, poor infrastructure, and an economy lagging behind rapid population growth. Annual per capita income is $938, about $78 a month. In a population of 23 million, 45 percent live below the poverty line. Of 7.3 million Yemenis in the workforce, 35 to 40 percent are unemployed. Although North and South Yemen were unified in 1991, years of intermittent north-south clashes have ravaged the country. These tensions have reemerged in protests over rising food prices in the southern port city of Aden, which depends on the north for its agricultural products.
Workers gained the right to organize in the 1940s under British rule. The General Federation of Workers’ Trade Unions in Yemen (GFWTU-Y) held its long-awaited national congress in March 2008, ushering in a more representative executive board. As of late 2008, the GFWTU-Y reports a total membership of 400,000, across 18 sectoral unions. Unaffiliated professional unions are still struggling to achieve recognition.
More than 70 percent of Yemenis who do have jobs work in the informal economy. Street vendors rush through the congested thoroughfares of Sana’a, balancing trays full of glasses of hot tea. Day laborers huddle on street corners waiting to be hired at a construction site. Workers toil in outdated cement factories and diminishing oil fields. Port workers and longshoremen unload cargo on the docks of Aden, once the capital of South Yemen and now the economic center of the country. Women teach in schools and produce handiwork in their homes. Children as young as four years old work in the fields or sell newspapers on the city streets. One in ten Yemeni workers is a child.
The Solidarity Center partners with Yemeni trade unions as well as professional associations, supporting capacity building efforts at the provincial-level and sectoral branches of GFWTU-Y. These programs focusing on strategic planning, health and safety, women’s empowerment, and economic restructuring policies. The Solidarity Center also supports alliances of the GFWTU-Y with the global labor movement.
ITUC Call: Killings Should Stop Immediately in Yemen.
March 18, 2011—At least 30 people have been killed and hundreds wounded after Yemeni security forces opened fire today on protesters at University Square, in the capital Sana'a.
Education for Change: Sowing the Seeds of Solidarity
. Solidarity Center hosts a seven-member delegation of women union educators from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Yemen.
Yemeni Trade Union Leaders Develop Strategies for Protecting Worker Rights
. Union leaders gather in the capital city of Sana'a to share their solutions for meeting workers' daily challenges in their struggle to make a living.
Solidarity Center Protests Firing of Yemenia Airways Workers
. Engineers were targeted for their union activity. The global labor movement denounces the firing of three Yemenia Airways workers, union officers in the Yemenia Engineers Association.
Statements of Support