[DEBATE] : Re: NEW ITUC
p.waterman at inter.nl.net
Sun Oct 29 21:45:30 GMT 2006
Woops, a PS on the Merger.
I note that the statement seems to have been made not from or to an
international labour or social movement event but from one of the increasing
numbers of forums in which the unions can rub shoulders with more weighty
members of the global elite. And that it was published not in a labour,
union or social movement space but in the Financial Times.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dominic Tweedie" <hypercube at telkomsa.net>
To: "Debate" <debate at lists.kabissa.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2006 9:03 PM
Subject: [DEBATE] : NEW ITUC
ICFTU/WCL, October 26 2006 19:45
New global realities demand a new kind of unionism
By Guy Ryder and Willy Thys
At a Forum for Responsible Globalisation in Lyons this week, trade unions,
alongside others, are presenting their views on what is wrong with the
phenomenon and what can be done about it. This is not exactly headline news,
with at first sight little prospect of more than a ritual moan about the
ways of the world. However, from Lyons, the world's trade unions will go on
to Vienna to found the International Trade Union Confederation - the most
representative and united trade union international in history. Many of
globalisation's problems have their roots in the world of work. So it is
reasonable to expect that some of the answers will come from there too.
This comes at a time when even the most ardent cheerleaders of globalisation
are asking themselves whether all is well on its uneven playing field. Those
unmoved by the flagrant social injustices of the global economy can still be
concerned that the collateral damage it inflicts may bring with it the seeds
of global insecurity. Or that the large numbers excluded from benefits
accruing to the better off might decide to use their democratic prerogatives
to blow the whistle and bring the game to an end - or at least to rewrite
The shift in income away from labour towards capital is widely felt. Workers
feel it in stagnant or falling wages, with half of those employed around the
world living in poverty. Meanwhile, businesses enjoy record profits.
Governments pay more attention to those who tell them to be unobtrusive than
to their citizens, who demand that they fulfil their obligations of
provision and protection.
It is encouraging that the globalisation debate is no longer a "knock 'em
over, carry 'em out" confrontation between globophiles and globophobes. The
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and World Confederation of
Labour have never belonged to either camp. People can only benefit from a
climate in which it is no longer taboo to talk about regulation of global
markets, nor de rigueur to disqualify those who do as outmoded defenders of
special interests. We are more closely in touch with people's needs.
However, a credible political project for change is still a long way off.
While the effects of globalisation are the bread and butter of national
politics - jobs, income, migration - the policies needed to change them
often lie in the international domain, beyond the scope of democratic
processes. When was international development aid an election winner? Or one
's negotiating position at the World Trade Organisation? The result is that
when globalisation gets a look in at the polls it is often courtesy of
populists and xenophobes.
Another obstacle is that we all have difficulty in distinguishing between
what can and should be changed in globalisation and what cannot or should
not. It is argued that the doubling of the global labour force with the
entry of Chinese, Russian and Indian workers has changed the labour-capital
ratio to the disadvantage of wage levels. Trade unions do not want anyone
excluded from the global economy nor believe they can be. But they do want
it subjected to reasonable regulation applicable to all countries, along
with respect for workers' rights. Similarly, capital will continue to be
internationally mobile and the world division of labour will evolve
accordingly. Here, too, it is possible to subject investment decisions to
basic regulation and to mitigate adverse employment effects. But
international institutions have shown little interest or capacity to do so.
Each seems intent on pursuing its own agenda in isolation from the others.
Governments, to their discredit, have been ready to preside over this policy
Unionists can do better, too. While we proclaim our commitment to changing
the world, we sometimes have trouble changing ourselves. This is where the
ITUC comes in. With some 400 affiliates in more than 150 countries, it is a
chance to make history. We must use this opportunity to ensure that trade
unions effectively represent working people in the global economy. The ITUC
can become the instrument of a new trade union internationalism equal to the
challenges and circumstances of globalisation.
This will not happen just because of increased numbers. We have some
difficult decisions to make if our internationalism is to go beyond the
episodic provision of solidarity when it is needed and placed centre-stage
of the organising and bargaining agenda, as globalisation demands.
Guy Ryder is general secretary of the International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions. Willy Thys is general secretary of the World Confederation of
Copyright <http://www.ft.com/servicestools/help/copyright> The Financial
Times Limited 2006
Web site at: http://amadlandawonye.wikispaces.com/
Blog at: http://domza.net/
Subscribe for free e-mail updates at:
Library of documents at: http://cu.domza.net/
DEBATE mailing list
DEBATE at lists.kabissa.org
I am using the free version of SPAMfighter for private users.
It has removed 241 spam emails to date.
Paying users do not have this message in their emails.
Try SPAMfighter for free now!
More information about the Debate-list