UNI WEB fronts up to challenges for unions in new global order
The packed agenda included sessions on organising, the potential effect of Trump’s election win and the Freedom From Fear awards. Participants met to discuss, plan and adapt to current and potential geo-political and strategic challenges.
Around the world, there has been a closing of democratic spaces which has made it increasingly hard for trade unionists to stand up for human and labour rights without fear of reprisal. For this reason, UNI honours affiliates with the Freedom From Fear Awards in recognition of their courage in the face of repression, and in support of their struggles for justice and freedom.
The WEB vowed to continue following the path set at the Nagasaki World Congress in 2010, to Break Through for union organising onwards to the Liverpool World Congress in 2018. Several unions received Breaking Through awards in recognition of their recent superb organising work.
UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Philip Jennings, expressed his pride in the achievements of the organisation and its 900 affliliates and said never was their commitment more important as we face a new world order.
USA - Labour leaders prepare to face challenges of Trump era
At the World Executive Board in Nyon, global union leaders issued a response to the xenophobic and divisive campaign rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump. Leaders urged Trump not to continue on the hateful path established by his election trail and hoped that unions could work with the Trump administration for the benefit of American workers. The consensus of the World Executive Board was that the work of unions striving for social justice, fair wages and decent work must continue with renewed urgency and vigour. Read more here.
Korea – One million candlelight vigil calling for democracy
Over a million took part in various candlelight vigils in Seoul and across the country calling for President Park to stand down and return the country to democracy. For video click here.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings has called on Korea’s President Park Guen-hye to demonstrate she is willing to return her country to the path of democracy by freeing imprisoned union leaders, including KCTU President Han.
After weeks of protests against the President, prosecutors in Korea have stated their belief that President Park Geun-hye played a “considerable role” in the corruption scandal.
World Executive Board endorses measures for 40% women representation
The World Executive Board unanimously supported and promoted the measures proposed by UNI Equal Opportunities to ensure the full implementation of the 40% women representation goal in UNI Global Union structures. Women represent 50% of the world workforce, but they are still largely under-represented in decision-making structures in political, economic and institutional spheres. UNI aims to break through for gender equality by implementing the 40% rule in its decision-making bodies, sectors, groups and conferences.
Liverpool 2018 – Making it Happen
The UNI World Congress in 2018 will take place at the Liverpool ACC Centre with the theme “Making it Happen”. 150 years on from the creation of the TUC, UNI will be collaborating with the City of Liverpool to produce a spectacular Congress. Liverpool 2018 will also feature a cultural programme on the Future of Work as well as engagement from local schools and activist groups. The World Executive also heard about plans to stage the World Congress in 2022 in Canada after the welcome invitation of UNI affiliates, UNIFOR.
Future World of Work– heading towards solutions!
The World Executive Board was preceded by the Leadership Summit on the Future World of Work, featuring leading experts from around the world. Experts such as Articial Intelligence (AI) professors, Vanessa Evers and Maja Pantic, covered various challenges and potentials of the new digital economy. They fully believed in the positive contributions AI will make to our societies, and denied that AI could be misused in any ethical or practical sense. Saadia Zahidi from the World Economic Forum then took the floor and concluded that the world is ill-prepared for what is to come. She confirmed what others say - the digital economy will disrupt jobs and make over 35% of our current skills obsolete. She asserted that jobs that traditionally employ many women are already in decline and will mostly disappear, leading to a negative impact on gender inequality.
Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar, spoke to delegates via video link from San Francisco about the potentials of a collaborative economy that removes the middle-man and turns customers into active members. Chase called for unions to take the lead on forming a Peers Bill of Rights that would set global standards for rules of engagement, and employment status. In an inspiring speech Professor Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute, presented digital workers as the new invisible labour, and envisioned “digital spaces of resistance” and “digital picket lines”. Graham called for a transition from Fair Trade to Fair Work and challenged UNI to take part in that movement. The Leadership Summit closed with a call from author Guy Standing for new forms of solidarity as the commodification of work and education has led to a growth in worker exploitation, a rise in precarious contracts and a plunder of the commons.
The World Executive welcomed the debates, and agreed that UNI should continue to work on the many aspects of the digital economy leading up to next year’s Summit called Solutions.
See the video interviews with the panel of experts from the Future World of Work Leadership Summit.
Trade deals are falling apart
President-Elect Trump has declared TPP, the transpacific partnership dead. TTIP, the EU-US trade agreement has come to a grinding halt, and the ministerial plans to sign off TiSA before the end of 2016 have been pushed back into the unknown future.
However, the Executive were not fooled into thinking that all trade agreements will be wiped off the table for good. TiSA for one, is far from dead. The postponement of negotiations is a result of the stalemate between the EU and the US over two fundamental issues. Firstly, there are disagreements over giving automatic market access to all new services (EU says no), and secondly over data localisation (the EU’s president Juncker is reluctant to give any leeway into releasing EU citizens’ data to anybody outside the EU). The Executive asserted that we must not forget CETA – the trade deal between Canada and the EU. It is up for ratification in each EU member state and public discontent is rising. Given that none of these agreements satisfy the demands of the global labour movement, their struggles were widely seen as positive. However, unions must keep up the pressure on our governments to ensure that TiSA and CETA, in their current form, are abandoned.
Changes in the organisation
Ruben Cortina, President of UNI Americas paid tribute to the extraordinary work of UNI Americas Regional Secretary Adriana Rosenzvaig, who will not be standing for re-election at the regional conference in Medellin next month. Rosenzvaig received a standing ovation for her outstanding contribution to the transformation of UNI Americas’ regional work as well as at a global level in her capacity as former Head of UNI Graphical and UNI SCORE. The World Executive Board also endorsed and welcomed the nomination of Marcio Monzane as the new Regional Director of UNI Americas. Monzane started work at UNI Americas in 2004 and spent 5 successful years at Head Office as the Head of UNI Finance before returning to the region earlier this year.
Regional Secretary of UNI Africa Zakari Koudougou, who will also not be standing for re-election at UNI Africa’s regional meeting in Dakar in March 2017, was also given a standing ovation for his work in the region. The Board unanimously endorsed Keith Jacobs as the nominee for UNI Africa Regional Secretary.
The World Executive additionally took note of the process recommended by the Management Committee for the selection of the new General Secretary of UNI Global Union.