Trade Unions: we know what we're against, but what are we for?

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Trade Unions: We know what we’re against. But what are we for?

Trade unions defend workers against the worst parts of a free-trade neoliberal global economy. But why stop there? One group from the Global South is fighting for a fairer economic world order.

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‘We’re worth it!’ Members of the German ver.di trade union protesting about wage negotiations in April. dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

Globalization is cutting labour rights around the world, so the fight cannot only be local. The Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) wanted to go global. In the 1990s, South African trade unionists dreamed of a new style of democratic trade unionism.

SIGTUR now has groups in 35 countries across four continents. As it got bigger, its leaders began to realize that fighting together in shipping and logistics could be a big problem for trade.

Also, people from different countries working for the same transnationals companies have started to work together. This brings more ideas and more fighting power. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions, for example, has worked closely with the Korean Council of Trade Unions to stop the Hyundai Motor Corporation in both India and Korea using casual contracts for employees. SIGTUR also knew it needed to work on the alternatives.

The unions in SIGTUR have been fighting for a long time against the current economic system. But they haven’t talked about what they are fighting for. So in 2010 it started a Futures Commission to develop an alternative to neoliberalism. The commission is thinking about issues like tax justice; moving from free trade to fair trade; changing the public sector; and a just transition from fossil-fuel capitalism. These are the first steps in a long march to freedom from the free market.

Rob Lambert sigtur.com

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://newint.org/features/2016/09/01/still-standing-or-standing-still/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).