What is The Union Show?

7 12 2010

The Union Show broadcast on community TV C31 in Melbourne Australia from 2005 to 2009 and is a rich source of information on unions and issues affecting unions in this country. Whilst the program is no longer produced for television, the producers, United Productions maintain both a Union Show blog and the UnitedPro2010 YouTube channel as a means of disseminating union information that would otherwise be lost in time and in the morass of anti-union misinformation that is distributed by mainstream media.

An extensive archive of Union Show episodes is available for viewing at http://theunionshow.blip.tv. Current union information can be sourced at www.theunionshow.com.au and at the UnitedPro2010 YouTube channel. There are many other web sources for union information that deal mainly in the written word. One of those sites and perhaps the venerable example is www.labourstart.org.au where you will find links to many other like-minded information outlets.


Dockers demand worldwide lobby on health and safety

15 08 2010

Calls by dockers’ unions for a global union response to growing health and safety concerns in ports following several fatalities over the past year were renewed at the dockers’ section conference on Saturday.

Section chair Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, reported that there had been three deaths on the docks in the past six months in Australia.

Employers, he explained, had not been taking the issue seriously or responding adequately. The union had taken protest action stopping port activities for 24 hours.

Crumlin said: “Which ever employer it is, we should respond in the global movement and show that we won’t tolerate this. We must act as one.”

He added: “There should be comprehensive standards in occupational health and safety and minimum standards of training for dockworkers. And global network terminal operators must have minimum standards in all their operations worldwide.”

Ryosuke Kitahata from the National Federation of Dockworkers’ Unions of Japan explained how the union’s work with the ministry of land, transport and infrastructure had led to the introduction of a bill on container safety. It contains a number of provisions, such as control over the contents and weight of containers and guidelines on packing.

Kitahata said: “The ITF should create a movement for the safe transport of marine containers and policy for international standards on safe transport of countries.”

Frank Leys, ITF dockers’ section secretary, gave a presentation on the ports of convenience campaign. Several unions commented on the implementation of the campaign and stated that it was vital to increase dockworker power worldwide. They also suggested that more resources be allocated towards these efforts and that links between the flag of convenience and ports of convenience campaigns be strengthened. This would ensure that material benefits for dockers could be delivered more effectively and the issue of cargo handling by seafarers resolved.

Delegates observed a minute’s silence to remember Pedro Zamora, the Guatemalan dockworkers’ leader, murdered in 2007 in the port of Quetzal, and all other dockers who had lost their lives in the course of their work.

Unions of the world unite for Peace, Security and Democracy

30 06 2010

…..and this is what the ITUC has to say.

25 June 2010: ITUC World Congress delegates today adopted a resolution that reconfirms the ITUC’s commitment to achieving a peaceful, democratic, secure and stable world, where people from all countries coexist in mutual respect and tolerance, free from the threat of armed conflict, terrorism or other forms of violence or occupation.

ITUC president Sharan Burrow announced that the ITUC will undertake a mission to the Middle East to urge that the peace process continues there. She emphasised the urgent need to address “the illegal occupation of the West Bank, and the need to end the blockade of Gaza that deprives people of their fundamental needs and entitlements.”

ITUC affiliates from Turkey and Greece took the stage together with the resounding cry “long live peace!” They presented a joint initiative for “cooperation and solidarity for a dividend of peace for workers” founded on the belief that “working people have nothing that divides us across the two shores of Aegean Sea.”

These delegates noted that despite this time of economic crisis, military expenditure has been rising steadily around the world. Greece and Turkey respectively have the highest percentage of military spending to GDP after the USA, among NATO countries. They called upon their governments to reduce military spending to achieve a real peace dividend by reallocating military expenditure savings to promote new jobs, education, health and social care.

In an historic demonstration of peaceful goodwill and solidarity, the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW), in consultation with the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU), and with mediation assistance by ITUC Africa General Secretary Kwasi Adu-Amankwah – put forward a joint statement calling for the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea, and renewed action on implementing UN Security Council Resolutions to resolve the conflict between the two countries.


We call for the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea.

We support renewed action for resolving the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia through implementing UN Security Council Resolutions.

As Congress meets, armed conflicts of varying intensity affecting people in more than 20 countries worldwide are taking place. All too frequently, this is exploited by those who supply weapons to or otherwise seek to profit from countries in situations of conflict. Global military spending has increased 45 percent in real terms in the past 10 years to record levels, with some countries allocating as much as 10 percent of their GDP to it, at the expense of vital investment in social and economic development. There are more than 23,000 nuclear warheads in the world – sufficient to destroy life on the planet many times over.

The ITUC recently collected and submitted to the United Nations 6.7 million signatures from working people around the world who are united in the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

At this congress session, the Japanese ITUC affiliate JTUC-Rengo handed over the golden Dove of Peace to be held in trust by the Canadian Labour Congress until the next ITUC World Congress.

Naomi Okamoto of JTUC-Rengo Japan said, “I hope that every one of our brothers and sisters will soon be able to live in peace. This dove flies from union to union carrying with it the hope of peace. This dove is even more valuable than pure gold. As far as peace is concerned, it is the precondition to achieve our trade union goals.”

Social justice, democracy, good governance and the rule of law, including international law, are foundations for peace. Still there’s an appalling toll of death, injury and disease across the world as results from armed conflicts. It is often the most vulnerable who are the principal victims, with systematic rape and other forms of violence against women and girls used as a weapon of war. Hundreds of thousands of children are forced into combat and military slavery in conflicts around the globe.

Conflicts often have their roots in economic and social deprivation. Devoting additional resources including development assistance to generating decent work opportunities, particularly for young people, is an essential element in addressing the causes of social instability and conflict. Trade unions have a unique capacity to work for peace and for preventing the development of conflict and dealing with its aftermath.

- ITUC resolution on democracy, peace, security and the role of the United Nations (PDF)

Support for Palestinian unions’ call for international unions to ban Israeli trade and ships

30 06 2010

Palestinian trade union movement calls on international dockworkers’ unions to block loading/offloading Israeli ships until Israel complies fully with international law and ends its illegal siege of Gaza

By the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, Palestine

June 7, 2010 — The Palestinian trade union movement, as a key constituent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on dockworkers’ unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.

Drunk with power and impunity, Israel has ignored recent appeals by the UN secretary general as well as a near consensus among world governments to end its siege, putting the onus on international civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of holding Israel accountable to international law and ending its criminal impunity. Dockworkers around the world have historically contributed to the struggle against injustice, most notably against the apartheid regime in South Africa, when port workers’ unions refused to load/offload cargo on/from South African ships as a most effective way of protesting the apartheid regime.

Today, we ask you to join the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), which resolved not to offload Israeli ships in Durban in February 2009 in protest of Israel’s war of aggression on Gaza, and the Swedish Dockworkers Union which resolved to blockade all Israeli ships and cargo to and from Israel in protest of Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla and the ongoing deadly Israeli siege of the occupied Gaza Strip.

Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential food, health, educational and construction supplies is not only immoral; it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that is inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic devastation and hundreds of deaths. This three-year old medieval siege against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN special rapporteur on human rights, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting “slow genocide”.

Israel’s deplorable attacks on the unarmed ships are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes”. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process. As prominent international law scholars have recently confirmed, there is absolutely no legal justification for Israel’s act of aggression against international civilian ships carrying humanitarian and developmental aid to civilians suffering under occupation and a patently illegal blockade, which has created a man-made and deliberately sustained humanitarian catastrophe. Our response must be commensurate with this crisis.

Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel’s occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.


Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)

Federation of Independent Trade Unions (IFU)

Palestinian Professionals Association **

Youth Workers Movement (Fatah)

Central Office for the Workers Movement (Fatah)

Progressive Workers Block

Workers Unity Block

Workers Struggle Block

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) – part of IFU

Workers Liberation Front

Labor Front Block

Workers Solidarity Organization

Workers Struggle Organization

** Includes the national syndicates of engineers, agricultural engineers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers and veterinarians.

World’s unions reject boycotts, embrace Israeli-Palestinian cooperation

30 06 2010

The international trade union movement has just delivered a stinging rebuff to advocates of the campaign to boycott Israel.

At its second world congress which just concluded in Vancouver, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) rejected calls to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targetting the Jewish state.

A vehemently anti-Israel resolution submitted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions never made it to the floor.

And in a stunning blow to pro-Hamas activists in some unions, the Israeli national trade union center Histadrut was honored by the global trade union movement.

Its leader, Ofer Eini, was elevated to the ITUC’s 25-member Executive Board as well as its General Council.  Eini was also elected as one of the organization’s Vice Presidents.

The ITUC has 312 affiliated organizations in 156 countries and territories representing 176 million workers.

Eini’s election followed calls by major unions in the UK and elsewhere for the Histadrut to be boycotted.  Instead, the international trade union movement has embraced the Israeli unions, understanding them — correctly — to be important partners in building peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a resolution adopted by the ITUC congress, the positive role of the Histadrut was made explicit:

“Congress welcomes the landmark agreement between Histadrut and the PGFTU on the rights of Palestinian workers, which was finalised with the assistance of the ITUC in August 2008, and initiatives by Global Union Federations in their sectors to support cooperation in defence of workers’ rights. This agreement, and other actions to promote decent work and end discrimination, are crucial to building the basis for just and equitable economic development.”

For the future, the ITUC resolution declared:

“Congress commits the ITUC to continue to support the strengthening of cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli trade union movements and calls upon the international community to support Palestinian economic reconstruction and development, including through the ILO Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection.”

In addition, the world’s trade unions

  • Called for a two-state solution — and “universal recognition of Israel’s right to exist, next to an independent viable Palestinian state”
  • Rejected “the extremist policies of Hamas
  • Condemned the Egyptian “decision to impose heavy restrictions on its border with Gaza”
  • Acknowledged that Israeli’s December 2008 attack on Gaza came “in response to rocket attacks”
  • Supported the 2002 “Road Map” for peace proposed by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union

The resolution adopted was highly critical of many Israeli policies, calling for an end to illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories, rejecting the blockade of Gaza and the building of a security fence, and so on.

But what stands out clearly is the commitment by the vast majority of the world’s trade unions to a two-state solution and to strengthening Israeli-Palestinian trade union cooperation.

This is welcome news for Israelis and Palestinians and a blow to the supporters of Hamas who have tried hard to isolate and demonize Israel within the trade union movement.

Second ITUC World Congress concludes by electing its first female General Secretary

29 06 2010
25 June 2010: On Friday 25 June, Sharan Burrow was elected General Secretary of the ITUC. On the fifth and final day of its second World Congress in Vancouver (Canada) Sharan Burrow was elected to succeed Guy Ryder, the first General Secretary of the ITUC, the world’s largest international trade union organisation, founded in Vienna in 2006. Sharan Burrow will leave her post of President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), that she has held since 2000, to become the first woman at the helm of the ITUC.

“It’s a very proud moment for me, but I hope it will be also a very proud moment for every woman around the globe,” commented Burrow after her election.

“The ITUC is still facing many challenges in the wake of the global financial crisis. Although we have seen some exceptional results in a small number of countries including Brazil, Argentina, China and Australia, the recovery in jobs has not been universal. Global unemployment and underemployment continued to rise throughout 2009 and during the first half of this year” Burrow added.

The election of the first female General Secretary of the ITUC is historically significant for the global trade union movement and occurs at a time of high participation for women at the ITUC Congress with 50 % of delegate’s seats being held by women.

Michael Sommer, DGB, Germany, has been elected as the ITUC President. Jaap Wienen has been elected as the Deputy General Secretary Luc Cortebeeck, CSC Belgium, has been elected as ITUC Deputy President Nair Goulart, Força Sindical, has been elected as ITUC Deputy President

Sharan Burrow’s acceptance speech

Sharan Burrow photo gallery

Sharan Burrow- Biography

- Born in 1954 in Warren, a small town in western NSW (Australia), she started a teaching career in 1976 and became an organiser for the NSW Teachers’ Federation. President of the Bathurst Trades and Labour Council during the 1980s, she became Vice-President of Education International (EI) from 1995 to 2000. President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 2000, she also became in 2006 the first President of the new ITUC founded in Vienna.

See the entire biography

Globalisation of World Labour

29 06 2010

Paddy Crumlin, MUA national secretary 25 Jun 2010 MUA national secretary addresses the International Trade Union Confederation World Congress in Vancouver, Canada today. The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 156 countries and territories and has 312 national affiliates, with Sharan Burrow, former ACTU President now elected ITUC General Secretary.

Paddy Crumlin, Mich-Elle Myers and Dean Summers, MUA with Sharan Burrow ITUC general secretary and outgoing general secretary Guy Ryder

Sisters and Brothers, Greetings and solidarity from the Australian Council of Trade Unions

My comments on Part 2 to those aspects directed at concretely building our organizational capacity.

Specifically my comments are directed at the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the council of global unions formed with the express focus of strengthening our structural partnership.

The report can be broadly described as good news and bad news.

The good news is that it has structure and funding – so it will be durable.

The bad news is – it hasn’t done much illustrated by the wonderful euphemism in the report  “Much more progress remains to be made”.

So if we are honest this new structural partnership under current commitments won’t do much, but it won’t do much for a very long time.

Brothers and Sisters the Washington conference on organising recognition and union rights developed a two pronged strategy.

1.       Promote organising methodology and understanding

2.       Assist in translating that understanding and skill to concrete and specific outcomes

This in essence reduces our conversation over the last 3 days on dealing with the challenges Guy and Sharan so articulately posed.

Can we successfully prosecute campaigns in real and practical terms for a new form of globalisation, NOW – THE PEOPLE.

A globalisation of inclusion not exclusion.  A globalisation that is not ageist, sexist, racist. The divisions imposed on us by the elitist and exclusive globalisation that dominates our contemporary lives.

Their globalization brought us to the brink of collapse and will keep us peering into that abyss of economic financial and material crisis until effectively dealt with.

We have been driven to this precipice by elitism and self interest at best and greed and criminal negligence at worst. These are the characteristics of the new world order, order unencumbered by any real empathy for the suffering and dislocation and poverty that are the waster products of it’s machinations.

Our  globalisation is concretely anchored in organising strategy reinforced by the partnership between the sectoral industrial responsibility of the GUF’s and the strategic responsibilities of the ITUC. Both operate regionally, sub regionally and nationally. The points of intersection are many and varied, that is why we need  structure.

For analytical reasons

To minimize duplication

To enhance resource utilization

To communicate more effectively

And to act together more coherently.

The global council of trade unions is not a place in Brussels; it is a conversation in every region in every country. It is both top down and bottom up.

It is not a hall of towering rhetoric but a process nurturing new trade union structures and attitudes fuelled by objective review of outcomes and actions promoting our work plans, the work plans of this new growth model.

It is only a new growth model if it sees capital differently including not only its regulation but its opportunities through workers capital and other mechanisms.

It is only a new growth model if trade union density goes up instead of down.

It is only a new growth model if doing a little for a long time is not acceptable. There is only the proposition of doing lots by many today and every day.

That unambiguous commitment to our new trade union globalization brings us back in 4 years measuring how far we have come and not despairing on how far we have to go.

Now on this day La Fete Nationale De Quebec a traditional day of renewal let us make this declaration.


We – The People.

It is our day. Let us seize it

Go to the ITUC WEBSITE for more Congress reports