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Information is gleaned from a range of sources. Significantly, many delegates mentioned that they gained information from workshops, union discussions, informal discussions, and the email. This seems to suggest that there is an alternative source of information on international activities in those countries where there is a developed labour movement. It is interesting to note that CNN and BBC were significant sources of information in those developing nations where repression was severe. The responses were as follows:.

Delegates saw this as an example of the future direction of labour struggles and wanted more information.

Class Notes

The outcomes of the meeting were significant in that they reflected a consolidation of a campaign-orientated labour internationalism. Hence, there was an expressed desire for "concrete action against globalisation. There was, however, a degree of confusion as to what precisely was meant by "global unionism," hence the lower degree of strong support for this strategy.

The relative success of these campaigns, even at this early stage, is indicative of the immense potential of linking cyberspace communications systems to democratic organization. The transition is dynamised by leaders committed to human emancipation, leaders who still have the capacity to imagine an alternative to the bleak scenario of neoliberal global change. This campaign-orientated labour internationalism will now be briefly explored.

Delegates were committed to working towards a common May Day throughout the South. This would be trailed in the year with a view to a more extensive event in May Day was viewed as an opportunity to highlight the devastation neoliberal globalisation has wreaked on job security and conditions.

South Africa, India and Korea organized a general strike. These actions highlight significant facets of the new labour internationalism. These decisions are taken by national unions. The mass actions were for job security and humane conditions and against the effects of economic globalisation. This is indicative of a new ideological position being forged in the process of struggle. Future jobs are at stake as a consequence of these reckless strikes.

Grounded cyberspace communications allows a dialogue of common emancipatory interests that dissolves this national perspective. This is an essential counterbalance to the intense elite-defined nationalism. Four million workers responded to the general strike call in South Africa, 2 million in India, and , in Korea. Our struggle for full-time, quality jobs goes on.

South African workers have never lost a battle and they will not lose this one. This strike is about poverty, joblessness and the greed of capitalism. Companies have invested R80 billion outside of South Africa over a four year period from to This capital flight must stop immediately. We are prepared to do this every month if necessary. If we are not going to fight, then who is going to fight for us? The strike had wide appeal within South Africa and was non-racial.

Afrikaans workers marched chanting "Ons is gatvol" We have had a guts full. We are sick and tired of job losses caused by privatisation. Workers are always the first to suffer in privatisation. And where does the profit go to? To the bosses who sit right at the top and become fatter and fatter. I have never seen a company create new jobs by restructuring.

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We are not unrealistic. Our demands are achievable. We are saying to employers, protect us by giving us permanent jobs. The general strike was followed by an occupation of government offices. In New Delhi, strikers held up traffic at a major arterial crossing near the major business district, until they were arrested.

The demands in Korea were for a five-day working week; an end to the planned sell-off of Daewoo; and finally, the legal protection for workers in atypical jobs.

ICEM is the driving force and has taken the initiative against Rio in probably one of the most effectively organized international campaigns yet. Success in this instance may well provide a template for action against other MNCs. The British-dominated MNC has adopted an anti-union stance, demanding total managerial control over production.


The company has continuously downsized its workforce, creating serious workload, health and safety and environmental problems for workers and their communities. The issue then is how do unions respond? A five-week-long strike was triggered at the Rio Tinto coal mine when the company tried to introduce Australian Workplace Agreements AWAs to the strong work force with the intent of realising more flexible work practices to "get into the 20 th century.

All but seven workers refused the contracts, insisting instead on a collective agreement.

The ICEM strategy centered on cyberspace communications. ICEM has demanded of Rio:. Such an agreement must have effective monitoring mechanisms. The strategy confirms our arguments on the effectivity of grounded networking. Two forms were distributed via the internet. One was directed to unions on Rio sites, and the other to community organizations and individuals willing to commit to the Rio global campaign. These documents are listed in the appendix. With regard to the former, individuals are chosen by the union to be the Rio Tinto Global Campaign work-site organizer.

In taking on this position, they accept. With regard to the involvement of community organizations and individuals, the email document entitled "Pledge of Solidarity" asks organizations and individuals. This new organizational structure, within a global network is in the process of being set up. However, the campaign is not delayed whilst organization is developed and refined.

Protest action against Rio has been global, intense and sustained. The shareholders of Rio were one target. The Coalition put forward two resolutions, which called on the company to establish one single Deputy Chairperson to implement core ILO Conventions. The alliance of unions won support for the resolutions from some major institutional shareholders with over sixty-five billion pounds sterling in assets.

Apart from this pressure, the alliance led by ICEM began to organize protest actions around the globe, in an effort to pressurize Rio into signing a global agreement. Whilst these are still at an early stage, there is potential for a campaign of rolling protest actions across the globe until the company agrees to negotiate a global agreement. Pakistan workers have marched through central Islamabad. They tried to reach the British Embassy to protest but were blocked by military police. They demanded an end to the violence against workers in Brazil.

In California, chemical workers demonstrated against Rio, and in Indonesia workers occupied the mine site, asserting their rights. The emancipatory potential of cyberspace networking linked to organizations is already apparent in these early actions.


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The commitment of workers beyond their immediate interests belies competitive individualism and the determinism of much of the analysis arguing that there is an irreconcilable conflict of interests between workers in developed and developing nations. Such a linkage is symbolic. History resonates. During the apartheid years, Fremantle waterfront workers often delayed South African shipping in protest against the regime. Ship owners were forced to refurbish the cabins of black seamen before the ships were offloaded. More recently, the South African transport unions came out in solidarity with Australian workers fighting against the imposition of anti-union laws.

In , the unions threatened a boycott of Australian shipping on route from Fremantle to Durban unless the Western Australian laws were withdrawn. The Western Australian government retreated on the understanding that the boycotts would be cancelled. Large numbers participated in the Durban marches, holding aloft banners proclaiming their commitment to Australian workers who had stood by them in their fight against apartheid.

During the maritime dispute, shipping was actually boycotted. In early May, Australian ships were stranded with unloaded cargo. Significant lessons were drawn from this experience. Global integration and the trade dependence of nations renders governments vulnerable to militant, global union action.

In , the Western Australian government was determined to press ahead with its anti-union agenda, yet they eventually retreated before these pressures. A sensible strategy therefore requires that the global unionism experiment should first be applied to this strategic sector.

Hence the statement of intent:. The challenge for the two unions is to consolidate and build the foundation for international unionism on an ongoing basis.