I have just returned from a fantastic few days with students and teaching staff of the Global Labour University (GLU). The GLU held its annual summer school in Berlin which was billed as:
Former GLU students (alumni) are cordially invited to participate in the third GLU Alumni Summer School, organised jointly by the University of Kassel and the Berlin School of Economics and Law. The GLU summer school will bring together GLU alumni and current GLU students, as well as professors and trade union experts from the GLU network. The summer school is intended to strengthen the network links between GLU alumni and to explore possibilities for future research collaboration. The main theme of presentations & discussions will be about the Current Financial and Economic Crisis and Labour Responses.
The GLU is a highly innovative concept (students pictured above) offering masters level educational opportunity (just as at Ruskin College) at four partner institutions in South Africa, Brazil, India and Germany.
There is more info on the GLU at http://www.global-labour-university.org/5.html
You can view the GLU summer conference programme at:
The summer conference offered a highly challenging, stimulating range of presentations all of which provided a perspective on labour and trade union responses to the financial and economic crises. Clearly the evidence to-date suggests a degree of both rationality, for example in the BALPA shares-for-pay deal with British Airways and innovation for example in the deal brokered by the Opel works council in Germany (part of the summer conference) to protect jobs by reducing hours.
A contentious point within all of the debate however, was the degree to which trade unions should be proposing significantly alternative economic models to capitalism or just defending their place within the current malaise. Naturally an issue here is the degree of trade union significance in proposing the former, but also the degree of bargaining influence potentially lost in accommodating the latter.
So, a question here is, to what degree should trade unions support, or not, attempts by the state, employers etc., to shore up their position within the global economic downturn or is now time to turn the screw?