Sunday, 20 June 2010

International Organising Strategies


Just a brief report on a weekend spent amongst a wide-ranging, inspiring group of friends and colleagues.

From Friday to Saturday lunchtime I joined an eminent group of trade unionist activists, researchers and academics to form a rountable on international trade union organising strategies as part of the Northern College Social Forum.

Pictured left (speaking to group) is Keith Hodgson (REO for UNISON Northern Region)
who focused on the work of the Cuban Medical Brigades as part of a strategy to engage younger workers with trade union activity. We also heard from Mary Compton (past President of the NUT and now a divisional secretary) the driving force behind the webs-site which documents the global neo-liberal assault on teachers and on teaching trade unions - well worth checking on month-by-month.

We were joined also by the well-respected writer on labour and trade union issues Celia Mather who, amongst a strong body of work particularly on organising workers in the informal economy, was reporting on the work she had completed just this week with a global group of trade unions and NGOS representing domestic workers who had achieved the momentous goal of negotiating an ILO core labour standard on the rights of domestic workers.

There is some background information from the ILO on the plight of domestic workers here:

More important however, is the web-site of the global group behind this drive:

It was also great to see and hear from a good friend, Ian Fitzgerald of Northumbria University. Ian is widely respected across the labour movement for his analysis of the relative strengths and weaknesses of trade union organising strategy following A8 accession, and in particular of Polish migration to the UK.

It was a pity to see the end of the rountable not least as, for a small group, the breadth and depth of experience and knowledge was phenomenal.

I did have to leave however, as in the afternoon I had the opportunity to join an equally well-respected body of speakers at an event that forms part of Co-ops Fortnight.

The event, at Methodist Central Hall (Westminster) was one of many and titled Co-operatives and Trade Unions: Working Towards a Common End. The event was chaired by Dan Whittle (Director of Unions21 - seated on right side of screen). I spoke of recent developments within the UK and US labour movements that suggested incremental steps towards greater degrees of forms of employee ownership.

I was pleased that we were joined by a good friend James Stribley (GMB Regional Convenor South Yorkshire - seated to my right) who spoke of the fantastic achievement of a group of GMB members who had been made redundant by Remploy but who have formed a co-operative (with the backing of the GMB) and who are baseed in York.

A key feature of the workshop was a presenatation by Stirling Smith (Co-operative College - standing) on the ILO core convention of the role of co-operatives within economic development and the valuable role of the convention in securing workers' rights and enabling greater degrees of mobilisation and collectivisation by workers, particlarly those in the informal economy in developing countries.

The last piece of news I want to report on is an event at Northern College that was running simultaneously to the Social Forum.

Given Northern's place in the history of the UK labour movement, and in particular of the mining communities of South Yorkshire, I was really pleased to see that the College was the venue for the 25th anniversary conference of the 84/85 miners' strike. The event 25 Years on – Reflections on the Miners Strike of 1984/85 was being run by a number of Northern Staff who were ex-miners. More details at:

I was really pleased a good friend at Northern, Phil Fitzpatrick, ex-miner turned librarian (now there's a great story!) on the reception desk for the event.

As ever Phil was able to coin a perfect phrase to match the mood of the event, when he suggested that, as a result of the Tories (with Lib Dem connivance) being back in power, the miners were once again grouping and coming together at Northern - did David Cameron know?

What a lot to pack into a weekend but still I was able, surrounded by women and men connected to trade unionism locally, nationally and globally, to witness events that mark our history and spell out our future.

Any comments welcome.




fortune said...

I am surprised you have so much free time to engage in what seems fairly trivial activity! (although the miners event sounds interesting).

And yet again you are found expounding on the bankrupt cause of trade union support for cooperatives.

Yet I have no doubt you will see your hoepd for expansion in 'social enterprise' on the back of the Tories destruction of the public sector.

Interesting to see that at the Co-ops event you were at the coops were defending the fact they want to put their snout into the academies trough through so-called coop schools.

I am appaled that so called progressives would exploit the vicious, ideologically driven campaign to destroy the national strucutre of local schools.

Do you sleep well at night?

statue today pigeon tomorrow said...

Hi Ian Phil Fitz here mate thought you may find the following bit of news interesting.

劉彥皓 said...


Anonymous said...


Ian Manborde said...

Hi Phil,

Good to hear from you.

I am so pleased that whilst the Con-Demned coalition sets about destroying the public sector and attacking the working class through the benefits system, it has time to sip good claret!

It'll be interesting to see if the stocks are sold off as part of the economy drive.

Thanks again Phil!


Anonymous said...