Posts Tagged ‘trade unions’

What Future for ‘This Great Movement of Ours’?

by Martin Upchurch

Trade unions in Britain are at a watershed. This month’s public sector strike on November 30th, involves 3 million workers from 27 different unions. It follows the largest ever trade union organised demonstration held in March and the public sector strike of three quarters of a million workers in June. This wave of strikes and protests must be viewed from a wider perspective. The student demonstrations late last year, followed by the Arab Spring and then the Occupy Movement have given  union members confidence to take the plunge and vote to strike. Protest has returned.  In 2010, the number of strikes in Britain were the lowest since records begun, now the masses are taking part.

But do the strikes also mark a major change in the relationship between the unions and the Labour Party? In the post War period trade unions swam with the stream for thirty years. Full employment provided the opportunity for unions to expand their membership, notably in the public sector and among women. When membership peaked in 1979 at nearly 13 million, governments were willing to do business with the unions. Concessions were made to expand the welfare state so long as trade union leaders held back the wage demands of their rank-and-file.

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Decent Work 2.0

by Frank Hoffer

Last month, Juan Somavia, the long serving Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) announced his departure in 2012.

As head of the ILO, he introduced the Decent Work Agenda in 1999 to re-focus the ILO and make it relevant for the 21st century. Twelve years later, the concept of ‘Decent Work’ is firmly established in the global debate and as an objective of national policy. It appears in many documents of the multilateral system, the G20 and national policy fora. It generates millions of Google hits. It is the subject of much academic research and debate. It is enshrined in several ILO Conventions and Declarations, and the international trade union movement introduced the annual Decent Work Day to campaign for workers’ rights. ‘Decent Work’ is so ubiquitous in ILO documents that some cynics say: “Decent Work is the answer, whatever the question!”

Will Decent Work survive the departure of the Director-General who coined the term and so successfully marketed it? Should it survive? The answer to the former question is one of the unknowns of “Realpolitik”. The answer to the latter depends on the assessment of what Decent Work means and how it should evolve.

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The pitfalls of third party power…

By Zach Davis-Hancock

When a third political party gets the chance to govern, there are often dire political consequences. The latest example of this phenomenon is the 11% local government swing against the UK Liberal Democrats who are in a power-sharing coalition with the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats have been lynched for the Lib-Con coalition’s cuts to public spending. The Democrats in Australia were whipped over the 1998 GST compromise. This pattern leaves many historical lessons for the future of the Greens Party, especially in dealing with the Carbon Tax.

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The Job of Political Parties – Transforming Society in a Changing World

By Milos Pick





In recent decades, the main long-term trends in world development have intersected.

Since the 1970s, the gradual suppression of the previous post-war reforms has led to the restoration of extremely deregulated capitalism (the Washington Consensus) and its global, neo-colonial expansion (the unipolar world). This has resulted in the extreme polarization of income and wealth and poverty verging on a genocidal scale (in the poorest countries), the depletion of extensive sources of further sustainable development, constrained natural population growth in developed countries combined with overpopulation in developing countries, and in particular the excessive depletion of scarce natural resources and environmental degradation. Capital exploits not only labour, but also, increasingly, nature.

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Blairite wing of the UK Labour Party launch "Purple Book" of modernising ideas to put pressure on Ed Miliband

By Mark Ferguson@markfergusonuk

There’s a great scoop by Rachel Sylvester in The Times , about plans for Progress and others associated with New Labour to publish a “Purple Book” of modernising ideas, similar to the Lib Dem “Orange Book” once published by those around Nick Clegg. But whatever you do, don’t call these people “Blairites” – this seems to be an attempt not only to rebrand New Labour ideas without Blair attached to them, but also to reframe New Labour for the 21st century.

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