A service to others: What you don’t see…
Organizing the elections for staff delegates always worries me. I’m not quite sure why, as I’ve organized quite a few without significant complications. Perhaps it is because the process involves a timetable of formalities, with meticulous deadlines to meet, or because of the difficulty of finding the candidates themselves. Yet, despite my fears, we have new staff delegates!
The process of organizing the elections includes, among other formalities, informing the trade union centers, of which there are six in Burkina, of our intention to hold elections, and requesting their lists of candidates. The headquarters then have 10 days to present the lists. To date, except for visits from several representatives of a few of the unions to try to convince the staff to join their ranks, we have not had any further interaction with them. For one reason or another – surely having to pay 500Fcfa/month (€0.76) is one of them – none of our employees is affiliated with any union at present.
After 10 days, we must inform Labor Inspection that the trade unions have failed to submit candidates despite our having informed them. We then ask Labor Inspection to find the unions noncompliant and to authorize us to hold “free” elections, so called when there are no candidates from the trade unions…
Labor Inspection has 48 hours to give us its approval. Once granted, we must organize the elections within 15 days of the authorization.
That is the moment in which the “search and capture” of candidates begins, in order to publish the list 72 hours before the date chosen for the election.
When I organized the first elections, I didn’t quite understand why we had to search so far and wide for candidates. In hindsight, though, I understood that running for the position is a brave act. Standing before your co-workers knowing that you may possibly receive only a single vote – most likely your own -can be more than humbling. Moreover, the delegates’ job is an entirely uncompensated act of service and dedication to others, beyond the potential for personal satisfaction. I fear that the concept of sacrificing for others without expecting anything in return is becoming increasingly rare, unfortunately, even in this society.
In these fifth elections held a several days ago, nothing has changed. With almost 50 employees, we needed at least four candidates, as the mandatory number of delegates is set at two holders and two alternates for the range from 26 to 50 workers.
On the morning of the deadline for publishing the list of candidates, I had only one name – someone committed to the cause who was among the outgoing holders of the post, and entitled to run again. This candidate spent much of the day reminding colleagues how important it was to have candidates. All in all, the lack of staff delegates isn’t a big problem, but we have learned over the years that it is better to have them. This is because delegates carry out the very important mission of communicating in both directions the needs and difficulties of each side (because, realistically, here there are two sides…). Thus, communication – delicate and complex for linguistic and (more importantly) cultural differences – becomes smoother.
FAR’s staff is highly noble. Furthermore, I think the employees are proud to work in an institution that goes beyond paying in accordance with legal requirements and complying with insurance, healthcare, continuous training regulations, even offering some extras such as daily food, to respect the local customs compatible with its humanist ideals and adapt to religious, social and administrative calendars.
We secured the necessary four candidates just before the deadline, and now – post election – have new delegates for two more years!
The theme of this post strays a bit from the usual, but I trust that it will help provide a more comprehensive view of the business of directing this social work. I want to take the opportunity to thank all FAR’s staff delegates – those newly elected and those outgoing over all these years – for their dedication to the task and for the willingness and selfless dedication that, as they say here, God will undoubtedly return to them a hundredfold.