Unions and international solidarity

I found this post from 2007 mysterious sitting deep in the bowels of the software on Club Troppo.  I don’t think it was published then – not that it’s any great shakes. But it’s published now.

Tonight Alison Tate, the International Officer for the Australian Council of Trade Unions will speak on Late Night Live.  She has just returned from the Thai-Burma border where she has been monitoring the human rights abuses in Burma following the military reprisal of last month’s demonstrations.

Unions used to be involved in all sorts of obviously worthy causes.  They were famously the authors of the ‘green bans’ that saved the Morton Bay figs of the Sydney Botanical Gardens near the Opera House and much else besides.  This activity was not particularly ‘democratic’ at least according to liberal political theory.  But most people are glad they did it.  They were also on the forefront of fighting racism from the 1960s on – though they did their bit to support it earlier in the previous century.   There is also much unions do and think that is not so flash.

Still, as I got my email telling me what was on LNL this evening, a thought occurred to me, which was that I doubt that any business organisation has sent an officer to the Thai-Burma border so that they can report back on the abuses of human rights that are going on there. I wonder why not?

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cs
cs
14 years ago

This activity was not particularly democratic at least according to liberal political theory.

Glad you added the qualifier, Nicholas. Theories of industrial and social democracy could conclude the opposite.

Doctor Patient
Doctor Patient
14 years ago

Tell Alison to give India and China a miss. She’ll be mortified to witness the abuses in those countries.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I wonder why not?

Probably because they persist in the erroneous belief that that is the job of reporters. Unions, having much more time on their hands these days, have a) read the papers and realised that reporters are crap, and b) have much more time on their hands full stop.

:)

ChrisPer
ChrisPer
14 years ago

I notice the unions haven’t been very vocal about the plight of the unions of Zimbabwe or Iraq over the last 27 years or so. My (retired) union delegate family member was helping host some Iraqi communists after the US invasion, and his conversation was mainly around how to conceal the fact that these real, formerly persecuted Iraqis were very releived that the Americans had taken Saddam’s boot off their necks.

But if they have members it may be that they view their job is looking after their members’ interests.

But many NGOs represent the private response to that kind of problem. Like most businesses, their role is specified in their constitution. Even if they are flat-earth marxists, privately formed NGOs are a response generated by indiviual initiatives.