Facilitated by the journalist Robert Taylor, the round table that followed discussed the means to accomplish this objective. He prodded the participants to consider whether labor unions must restructure themselves in order to succeed.
Francisco Gutierrez, UOM Argentina: “The structure of the labour union is strong and valid in fighting for workers’ rights. We need to put the ideas of our membership into action when challenging economic policies. Still, we need to open it up to include other social structures – students, the landless, house wives, the unemployed – in order to be more effective when addressing social issues. In South America, we have shown that when government makes anti-people decisions, we can mobilize and create change.”
Peggy Nash, CAW, Canada: “Although the core of unionism is the business of the bargaining table, we need to develop new levels of organizing and build non-traditional alliances with peace and environmental groups. We need to pursue associate memberships and conduct campaigns for workers’ rights. The world has changed. Unions cannot blindly follow the politics of one party; we must maintain political independence and hold the trade negotiators and elected officials accountable.”
Nobuaki Koga, IMF-JC, Japan: “We need to rationalize the co-existence of all elements of globalization. Globalization can increase the standards of living, but human dignity, dignity of work and social justice all also parts of the equation. Yes, we are trade union activists, but we are also taxpayers, consumers and members of the community. That’s why we must form coalitions with social groups and strengthen alliances. In politics, however, we must remain independent.”
Gianni Rinaldini, FIOM-CGIL, Italy: “Globalization is a fact of life. The question is whether it is possible to have a different kind of globalization, one that also equates to social justice. Although trade unionism needs to be rooted at the workplace, negotiations at the plant level are no longer enough. We can use bargaining as a platform to get global ideas across, but we must open up, too, and engage civic society. The question is: Can we fill the vacuum of power when it comes to challenging those who make the economic policies of globalization? Can we demonstrate our power?