Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
This the first in an occasional blog series highlighting how workers and unions around the world are analyzing the global economic crisis and fighting for economic justice.
In this post, find out more about French workers holding their bosses hostage, rubber unions joining together in Central Europe, global unions building strategies for recovery, exciting events taking place in New York City, Washington DC and Boston and an online course about the global economic crisis!
In addition to organizing major strikes, some workers in France are taking the action a step further in their workplaces. Some workers facing layoffs have started to hold top company executives hostage to call for fair negotiations and better severance packages. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday about 40 workers at a Caterpillar factory who locked themselves in an office with five company executives for 24 hours to discuss their concerns about a plant closure. Similar actions have been reported in France with workers for Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Sony and other companies. The hostage-taking strategy is popular among people in France and has led to some demands being met. Recently, NPR's Morning Edition also had an interesting piece about how student unions in France are joining other sectors of organized labor and taking action around the economic crisis.
Tire production has been rapidly expanding in Central Europe recently with companies like Bridgestone and Goodyear opening up factories in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. The ICEM and rubber union leaders in Central Europe recently held a meeting in Budapest to talk about how the economic crisis is affecting tire workers and how these unions can work together. Many unions reported that workers are seeing hours and wages reduced, some are being forced to take vacation or are working shorter weeks and others are still struggling with union recognition.
The Global Unions Federation, the International Trade Union Confederation and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD recently collaborated on a new report titled: "Getting the World to Work: Global Union Strategies for Recovery." The report includes articles by many international trade union leaders and covers a broad range of proposals for global recovery based on economic, environmental and social justice. The ITUC and other trade unions also joined progressive NGOs recently in calling for a "Global New Deal."
On May 15th, writer Naomi Klein will join UE organizers from the Republic Windows struggle as well as workers who have started worker-owned cooperatives in place of shut down factories in Argentina at an event in New York City called "Fire the Bosses." The event will build off Klein's documentary with Avi Lewis called The Take and the book Sin Patron: Stories from Argentina's Worker-Run Factories by the Lavaca Collective, both about the recovered factory movement in Argentina.
While the World Bank and International Monetary Fund hold their spring meetings in DC, global justice activists will hold a number of actions and events throughout the weekend. The plans include a march on Sunday and a People's Economic Forum this Saturday, April 25th in DC to discuss solutions to the global economic crisis.
On Tuesdays April 21 & 28 and May 5, the Radical Education Project in Boston is holding an interactive series of workshops about the global economic crisis with trainers from United for a Fair Economy, Global Labor Strategies and Jobs with Justice.
The Center for Popular Economics is organizing an online course called "The Economic Crisis and the Case for a Solidarity Economy" from June 1 through July 9.