International Trade Union Politics
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to get introduced to the Global Labour Institute team in Manchester. They were interested in getting some tech support for their International Summer School.
Over the years of being involved in trade union activities, I've realised that the supposedly un-cool name to the outside world, opens a door to a massive learning curve and leaving with a wealth of knowledge and connections.
The Global Labour Institute has bases in New York, Moscow, Geneva and the global hub of the North West, Manchester. They run direct international engagement and organise in the global workplace running advanced courses for union organisers and activists.
2015 saw their fourth International week of seminars, discussions and activities with representatives from Unions, Internationals and Federations across the globe.
Politics and Experiences of Organising
Rights of Sex Workers
Tackling Trans-National Corporations
Language and Jargon
Feminism - including Radical, Socialist and Liberal Feminism
We also talked about real-world campaigns, including...
Solidarity with Greece
UK Miners Strikes
International Food Workers Campaigns
Tube workers strikes
China workers rights at Sony and LG
Workers rights around the globe with Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nescafe
I met the first female General Secretary (Top Role) of the International Domestic Workers Union, Myrtle Witbooi, who was not just awesome for the work she was doing and the rights she was achieving for workers, but she was also a pretty brilliant and charismatic female, union activist.
There was also another woman that stood out in my book, Ume Laila Azhar from HomeNet Pakistan, who talked about precarious workers. Those who are home workers, freelancers, contractors on short term work, and also told us the story of the ladies who make and embellish those bright coloured metal bangles you can buy in pretty much any cheap gift shop across the board. I was so shocked to hear how little the women who made them actually got paid, something I have to admit, I hadn't given much consideration to when I bough a set of 12 at a main chain accessory shop in the UK years ago.
I also got the chance to hear experiences from across the globe from international activists who did not want to be named, for fear of serious, and potentially lethal repercussions. But, those stories sit in my head for times when I think about giving up on the fight.
The people at this Summer School were truly inspirational and it was great to feel a connection, from across the globe, of solidarity and rights, good right, for all.
It was also great to hear from Ron Oswald from the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) who shared with us an eye-opening presentation with many union campaigns across the globe, including the imfamous Necafe and Coca Cola; and Thierry Schaffhauser from Paris, part of the Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS) which fights for the rights of sex workers and shared the issues they face organising in their members' workplaces.
Next up on my agenda, I want to learn more about the different types of feminism, to be honest, I didn't think there was different versions, how bad is that?! Then I want to brush up on my neo-liberalism, Syndicalism and global media outlet platforms.