LabourStart’s Third Global Solidarity Conference

Posted: November 25, 2012 in Site announcements
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Global Village

Global Village (Photo credit: dou_ble_you)

1962 was a remarkable year. Times began a’changin’.

It was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the year in which Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, and the year both the Beatles and Rolling Stones emerged onto the scene.

Meanwhile on the U.S. West Coast a little-known athlete named Phil Knight penned a paper as part of his MBA studies with the unremarkable title Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?

The idea born in that paper became Nike and in 2012, fifty years on, Phil Knight is still the company’s president. He is also America’s 14th richest man.

The strategy of moving production to the lowest-cost countries has bedeviled the labour movement since it began to catch on in the 1980s and 1990s, playing workers in one country off against those in another. To date, no counter-strategy has had the clarity of Knight’s simple idea. It’s like Berlin’s metaphor of the fox and the hedgehog: activists (the fox) devise endless strategies to attack companies (the hedgehog) which evade new labour regulations simply by relocating yet again. There’s not much doubt who has the upper hand.

When will labour really get global?

The ‘official’ centre of the labour movement is the ITUC in Brussels, orbited by the seven global union federations. Their strategy relies heavily on Global Framework Agreements and ratifying of ILO core conventions. The jury is still out on their effectiveness.

However the labour movement is just too widespread to be able to fit under one organisational banner. There are other labour groups around. There is even another rival global body hanging around, the WFTU.

LabourStart is the closest thing there is to an ‘unofficial’ labour hub, and it will be holding its 2012 global solidarity conference in Sydney from 26-28 November.

Generally the LS vision follows a flux and transformation approach, being more of a forum in which ideas can emerge and be shared rather than attempting to direct or guide the process. This conference is going to depart from that slightly and will give activists across many disciplines an opportunity to work together with specific global campaign goals. The meta-issue with Nike and friends is Capital Mobility and it is not the only one that will be on the table. Insecure Work and dealing with Authoritarian States are also going to be tackled.

Here’s hoping for some exciting new ideas that we might see emerge.

  1. marksolock says:

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  2. […] highlight of 2012 was the LabourStart Conference here in Sydney, which I was involved in. It was great to meet and speak with many people firsthand, […]

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