FOS-socialist solidarity is the North–South organisation of the socialist movement in Flanders. International solidarity is more than an empty slogan for us. It is a condition for achieving a just world.
For us, this is equivalent to a fair distribution of resources. Between the poor and rich countries, but also within each country. It means an economy that adjusts to people’s needs. Not the other way around. It means respect for universal human rights. Also for the rights of women, and for labour rights.
But all this is not self-evident. That is why the member organisations and social movements are so important. They represent their group interests; they make their voices heard in decision-making processes. This way, they gain power, forming a countervailing power, to enforce their interests and be heard. That is why we support organisations and movements in the South, helping them to grow.
A globalised world is entitled to having a global countervailing power. We cooperate in this by bringing together organisations and movements in the North and in the South.
We work in two areas with our partners: the right to decent work and the right to health.
The right to decent work
Large groups of individuals in the South never have a chance to access a decent job. Often these jobs are unavailable or the available jobs are not decent work. Albeit that local free trade areas attract investors and employment, employment alone is not enough. Decent work is the key. With fulltime jobs, and formal labour rights. With a possibility of holding social consultations, and with a social safety net catching the ill, the elderly or the unemployed. Things that are not even evident in the richer countries. Threats of moving enterprises to low-income countries, demands for more flexibility: everyday fare under the pretext of the competitive struggle with the South.
Nonetheless, more decent jobs in the South do not automatically mean fewer jobs in the North. On the contrary, if workers in the South are treated and paid correctly, companies in the North will have fewer incentives for moving to the South. We must give the South a chance not only to economic development but also to social development. That is why we support the union struggle in the South.
The right to health
Health is both a condition for and the result of a good life. Still, in many countries healthcare continues to be a privilege of the wealthy. Basic healthcare services are difficult to access, and often lack the required medical personnel or medication.
Many people consider health is something simply happening to you. You are healthy. Or you are not. But health is something that can be provided. Diseases can be prevented, controlled or treated. The same goes for accidents and disabilities. Health is a right you can claim. Our partners advocate for people’s participation in state and social health policies. We also support the solidarity-based systems people set up, such as mutual funds or pharmacies providing affordable medication.
What we do
The right to health and to decent labour are two pillars for a worthy existence, regardless of whether you live in Belgium or Bolivia. This is what the social struggle we fight together with our partners is all about, in the entire world.