Making it Happen – the urgency of now!
At the opening of the UNI Management Committee, UNI President Ann Selin said we must take the fight to those who seek to close down democratic spaces, and attack workers’ rights.
“We are living in a fractured world where 3.2 billion people, one in two, are in vulnerable work. Where Amnesty International reports the closing down of democratic spaces in over 100 countries. Where the ITUC reports that 60% of countries exclude workers from the right to establish or join a union. Where 83% of countries violate the right to strike and 82% violated the right to collective bargaining.”
Selin made special mention of ‘fractured Brazil’ where former President Lula has been jailed to prevent him standing for election and called for solidarity and action to secure his release and a return to full democracy.
While recognising the severity of the challenges we face, Selin pointed out that there was a fight back, giving the #METOO campaign as an example of people power.
“UNI as it prepares for its world congress in Liverpool in June, is also part of the fight back against growing inequality and the downward pressure on wages and collective bargaining – that’s why the theme of the Congress is Making it Happen,” said Selin.
“We are fighting back in the future world of work with two landmark reports on data protection and ethical artificial intelligence, before they seeped into the public consciousness. We have two organising centres COZZ in Central Europe and fledgling COE in Colombia. Our breaking through projects show that we can grow unions even in Trump’s America where in 2017 union membership grew by 262,000, 75% of them young people,” Selin concluded.
The Management Committee agreed that the World Congress was not about ‘business as usual’ but an opportunity to give voice to the concerns of working people around the world and seek solutions.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings, wrapped up the session by underlining the urgency of now, ““The need for a united movement is urgent. Around the world, we see the degradation of democracy and the erosion of a belief in our mutual responsibilities. In the U.S., Trump is saying “America First” while he is withdrawing refugee funding. In places like Palestine, that means people can’t eat. Schools are closing. There are camps with 6,000 people and one doctor. The Brexit story is another example. We have to stand together, and say that building walls and isolating ourselves is not the answer.