Sunday, 17 November 2013

Trade Unionism Under the Spotlight


Happy students! Holly Smith (GMB Rep, Brighton City
Council and Katia Widlak, Local Organiser with UNISON)
I have just got back home from a fantastic weekend teaching the current crop of trade union activists and officers who comprise students of the MA in international labour and trade union studies at Ruskin College.

These residential weekends are always a great mixture of thoughtful critical analysis and discussion of the primary issues facing organised labour globally, and of the strategies which can assist renewal and revitalisation.

Now however, the students are expected to contribute to these strategies through their own dissertation research, and typically these seek to respond to some of the most profound external and internal dilemmas of organised labour.

Seumas Milne during a great debate around
his latest book The Revenge of History
This weekend was particularly vibrant as we were joined by Seumas Milne on Friday evening to discuss his latest book, The Revenge of History. What a great, sweeping book and one which Naomi Klein commented on as helping to provide answers to our major economic, social and political issues.

On Saturday Sheila Cohen joined us to discuss her latest book, Notoriously Militant, and we were particlarly pleased to see that she was joined by her partner Kim Moody of LaborNotes fame - they both contributed to a fascinating discussion around the nature of trade union democracy, the capacity of US migrant workers to generate the next upsurge in trade union prominence, rank and file trade uinion movements - and a whole lot more.

I was also very pleased to welcome back to MA Ben Egan. Ben graduated from the MA in 2012 and went on to gain a highly prestigious Marie Curie Doctoral Fellowship and he is now a student of KU Leuven university in Belgium.

Ben discussed his doctoral research which focuses on a strategy to assess how and whether multinational corporations are structured to enable greater capacity for trade union presence and collective bargaining. It's a fascinating piece of research which is massively relevant to the future of organised labour in the context of globalisation.

Sheila Cohen leads a wide-ranging discussion drawing on
her latest book Notoriously Militant
Overall then, a fantastic, inspirational weekend shared with a body of students who represent the very best of organised labour here in the UK and globally.
I am currently recruiting to the MA and welcome the interested to come and visit Ruskin and meet the current students during an open day. Send me an email and I'll send you an invite:

Ben Egan on strategies to improve trade union
presence and activity within MNCs

In Solidarity


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