Friday, 24 July 2009

Building Global Unions


Still recovering from incredibly challenging/rewarding few days.

Most important at a personal level was a reunion with comrades (last weekend) I was at Ruskin College with in the 1989-1991 year group - our first reunion in 20 years! Of course others looked old and knackered whilst I remain the picture of perfection!

Prior to this was an extremely rewarding few days in Istanbul working with the global staff association (GSA) for UNICEF. A real challenge here to enable a global union to work in practice and so much of our work was around leadership, the role of the local, regional and global representatives, campaigning skills etc. Approximately 170 staff association representatives in one place for the first, and probably last, time.

Pictured above are:

Paul Brown - WorldWideBrokers - specialist finance experts for expatriats

Alan Irwin - General Federation of Trade Unions

Indah Susanti - UN Staff Union for International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) providing facilitator support

Sophie Morishkina - UNICEF GSA - Regional Chair for CEE/CIS

Rita Ann Wallace - President of UNICEF GSA

Rick Cottam - President UN Staff Union for International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) providing facilitator support

Judith Jackson - General Federation of Trade Unions

Chris Land-Kazlauskas - President - Co-ordinating Committe for International Staff Unions and Associations of the United Nations System (CCISUA) providing facilitator support. One of the bodies to which the UN staff unions/associations affiliate.

Jo Cain - Ruskin College

With support from a number of colleagues I wrote the core course for the training element of the GSA's meeting and this was entitled Building Global Unions: Leadership and Renewal. The work with the UN staff unions provides a really new dimension to my traditional work with unions in the UK and Europe. In particular the challenge is working with unions with none of the legal protections we take for granted and whose major challenges, alongside conventional terms and conditions matters, includes the problems of working in the middle of wars, armed conflicts, environmental disasters etc.

In this context those who step up to become union represenatatives need as much education and support as possible and the event in Istanbul last week was a key starting point for the UNICEF GSA.

No question for you on this post just wanted to let you know what I have been up to since my last contribution.

I am now off until the start of the Autumn term so the last post for me for a few weeks.

I do hope you all have a good break from fighting for the rights of women, men and their families.



Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Can you Ban Blacklisting?


Today the newly formed Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched the consultation exercise on drafting statutory protection for trade union activists and members from blacklisting by employers.

You may remember previous posts on this matter and the recent controversy when the Consulting Association Ltd were found to have been providing employers in the construction industry with details of those with an activist background.

At the time I was surprised not that the disgraceful activity was happening but that the company and employers were so inept that the were caught out.

The consultation seeks to gain views on:

The definition of a blacklist of trade unionists and the prohibition of the compilation, dissemination and use of such blacklists;
making it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment, to dismiss an employee or otherwise cause detriment to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist;
making it unlawful for an employment agency to refuse a service to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist;
providing for the employment tribunal to hear complaints about alleged breaches and award remedies based on existing trade union law; and
an alternative, to provide for the courts to hear complaints from any persons that they have suffered loss or potential loss because of a prohibited blacklisting activity

Naturally all unions are encouraged to provide a response and further details are at:

My question here though is whether, despite new, welcome legislation, you will ever properly be able to squash a practice that has existed as long as trade unions have.

Comments welcome.