Sunday, December 31, 2006

Think Globally...

Good news for the New Year – the report in today’s Observer about the arrangements to be made between AMICUS, IG Metall and two US unions to organise on a global basis. This could turn out to be a more significant step even than the forthcoming merger with the TGWU.

Public service unions can probably continue to operate on a national basis, because the public sector is by its nature organised nation state by nation state – although there is certainly scope for further cooperation such as that between UNISON and Ver.Di

But the private sector is no longer organised nationally – does it even make sense to think of separate national capitals any more I wonder? The other side are organised on a global basis and our class needs to do the same. Derek Simpson foresees a multinational union organisation within the next decade. The quicker the better I should think.

The challenge we face is how to maintain democracy and lay control as our unions get larger and more remote. One of the US partners in the discussions with AMICUS and IG Metall, the International Association of Machinists, has faced criticism from union democracy campaigners.

Bigger unions are not necessarily stronger and more effective just by virtue of their size. We also need to ensure that our unions are under the effective control of rank and file members.

Maybe there is a New Year's resolution here somewhere...

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