Monday, 22 February 2010

Building Global Labour Networks


This post provides details of the Ruskin College MA in International Labour & Trade Union Studies (ILTUS) that has been kindly promoted by Eric Lee at LabourStart (

Please review the information below about the MA and contact me with any questions about applying:

Building Global Labour Networks – International Labour & Trade Union Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford

In October 2010 a new generation of labour activists will join the global network of those
who have benefited from study and learning on the International Trade Union & Labour
Studies Masters Degree at Ruskin College in Oxford.

In the fight for global justice have you the ideas, the passion and interest to join other
students to explore and understand the national, regional and global challenges to
organised labour?

As the world of work, society and employment continue to change and adapt do you want
to develop the knowledge and skills to critically inform the way in which labour to its
challenges and to the way it responds globally?

If yes, then you should enrol on the next MA programme.

What they say about the Ruskin MA:

Trade unionism needs to be global if it’s going to tackle issues like trade, aid and debt;
transnational corporations and migrant workers. Ruskin has always been internationalist,
preparing generations of trade union officers and activists from around the world. Now we
need a new generation of young men and especially women, to take up the challenge,
acquire the knowledge and develop the skills appropriate to the new globalisation of work.
And this programme is just what they need.

Brendan Barber, General Secretary, UK TUC

The MA has broadened my understanding of union revitalisation and examples from unions
in various parts of the world that have embarked on strategies and actions to confront and
arrest union decline and crisis

Ariel B. Castro - Senior Specialist for Workers' Activities - ILO Subregional Office for South Asia
(Full-time MA student 2008-09)

What to do Next
Attend the MA Open Day at our base in Oxford on Saturday 8th May. Meet staff and current
students. Review course reading materials. E-mail Liz Mathews (MA Administrator) to
register your place:

You can see full details of the MA programme at:

You can get an application form at:

Scholarships - UK
Some UK trade unions provide scholarships for study at Ruskin. Even if your union does not
provide a scholarship we will support you in approaching your union, and other
organisations, for financial assistance to support the payment of course fees.

Details of UK trade union scholarships:

Scholarships - Overseas
Overseas applicants can apply for a Chevening Scholarship to fund their study. These
scholarships are limited, highly competitive and subject to interview and clearance by the
Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Interviews are conducted in the country you apply from.

Details of the Ruskin Chevening Scholarships:

Scholarship application form:

Ian Manborde
Ruskin College
MA ILTUS Programme Co-ordinator

Saturday, 13 February 2010

What do you expect?


We all know that trade union repression and intimidation knows no bounds, but the contradictions of state-led inteference in our legitimate role as trade unionists often throws up even greater acts of lunacy.

A colleague at the Korean Federation of Trade Unions drew my attention, via their national campaign against state hampering of union activity in the public sector, of the recent specific case of four teachers, activists with the Korean Teachers' & Education Worker's Union being fined for cooked -up charges of political interference. See the story at:

The judge obviously saw no contradiction in making the statement below and the essential role of teachers to inform pupils of social, economic and political developments in their own country:

“Teachers having political opinions as individuals should be respected, but they are in a special position in society and collectively they must remain neutral, as making political statements to influence society could damage public order and legal peace"

My immediate reaction on reading my colleague's e-mail and seeing the news article was, essentially, what do you expect of teachers, even within the Korean constitutional framework who attempt simply to follow professional guidelines in carrying out their role.

Any examples of similar bureaucratic infringements of the rights and activities of trade unionists is welcome.



Sunday, 7 February 2010

Who is the Vulnerable Worker?


On 24th February the GFTU launches its national project (in partnership with Thompsons Solicitors) which is aimed at providing employment rights advice to 'vulnerable workers'.

The event is in Leeds and any interested trade unionist is welcome to attend. I'll be managing this project in my part-time role as project's officer for the GFTU. Please send me an e-mail to register:

Just exactly who constitutes a vulnerable worker, not least in the current economic climate, is an elastic, fast-changing phenomenon.

As a piece in today's Observer attests the need to provide security and support to the vast army of migrant workers remains as key today as it has been for centuries/decades:

The place of the migrant worker as a critical focus, particularly for the trade union movement, has however expanded into the broader 'vulnerable' constutuency, and in doing so has placed a large proportion of the UK workforce into its bracket.

The GFTU project aims in particular to work with charitable and voluntary sector organisations to reach out to unorganised groups of vulnerable workers via a national series of employment rights fairs.

Innovatively we will be working also with the umbrella body for the UK employment agencies as a way to drive forward improvements in the employment practices of agencies.

This will be a highly challenging piece of work (not unlike others managed by the GFTU) which will however, offer some of the most vulnerable, exploited workers in the UK with essential advice around their employment status.

If you've any views around methods the project could employ to identify vulnerable workers who seek employment rights advice in a unbiased, independent setting please forward this information to me using the e-mail address above. Any other thoughts or comments on the project are welcome also.