Tuesday, 5 May 2015
Sunday, 3 May 2015
The Netherlands is exceptional in that 1 May is not a holiday and there’s not much of a tradition to celebrate 1 May. Over the past years there have been local initiatives to revive the 1 May tradition, including support actions for the cleaners’ campaign in Amsterdam.
Some examples of actions last Friday:
Photo via Ron Meyer
Over time, unions have become more institutionally than community embedded, with employed professionals operating on behalf of workers rather than organising workers to organise themselves. Further, the attacks on unions, particularly during the growth of neoliberal ideology from the 1980s onward, meant that many unions became inward-looking and more focused on servicing the surviving membership; as a result, trade unions became less visible in the wider community. Community unionism thus provides a way for unions to (re)build activity from the grassroots in the communities in which workers are most active in their daily lives.Download the paper here (via Kurt Vandaele)
Saturday, 11 April 2015
Last week, national trade union FNV, FairWork, the Rural Sociology Group (WUR) and other organisations called on Ahold to join the Fair Food Programme. At Ahold’s Annual General Meeting on 15 April, the issue will be raised for the fifth time in a row.
Meanwhile, Ahold is being criticised for its use of extremely low-paid young workers in the Netherlands: “Do you work at Albert Heijn at 6.95? CEO Dick Boer makes that much in 14 seconds”. A youth movement supported by FNV and various community organisations has launched a campaign against the Dutch system of youth wages which is the worst in Europe. It has calculated that Ahold and McDonald’s pocket 79 million euro per year by paying youth wages to workers who are 18 years and older.
Sunday, 29 March 2015
In Morocco, economic liberalisations started being implemented in the 1990s. Entrepreneurs benefited, but employees paid the price in the form of rising costs of living.
By the late 2000s, trade unions with different backgrounds (from left-wing to Islamic) joined forces to demand higher wages and pensions as compensation for the risen prices. The regime took a tough stance, but meanwhile the number of protests – strikes, marches and sit-ins – rose.
The protest movements that erupted in Tunesia and Egypt reached Morocco in 2011. The Moroccan regime was concerned about youth protests but perhaps even more about the role of trade unions. In order to contain the protests, a ‘social dialogue’ was started. Organisations including the unions participated in the dialogue but at the same time kept up the pressure by frequently threatening to rejoin the street protests.
Eventually, the protests and negotiations were succesful in that they led to substantial wage and pension increases.
Friday, 20 March 2015
As an example, he points out that under Thatcher, it was illegal for staff of British intelligence service GCHQ to be a union member. Does that make workers who retained their membership criminals?
He argues that this is not an isolated example. Employers can easily get an injunction against a contemplated strike, even a fully balloted and mandated one. And Conservatives are even planning to make it legal to use agency workers as strike breakers.
McCluskey: “When the law is misguided, when it oppresses the people and removes their freedoms, can we respect it? I am not really posing the question. I’m giving you the answer. It ain’t going to happen.”
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
According to a research institute ‘close to the employers’, German unions have become more influential. A new study to be published on Wednesday speaks of a ‘comeback of the unions’, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.
One aspect of this comeback is union membership. Nine years ago 18 percent of workers were union members; by 2012 this had risen to 20.6 percent. Six out of eight DGB-affiliated unions have seen their membership grow: IG Metall, Verdi, IG Bergbau-Chemie-Energie (IG BCE), Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), Gewerkschaft der Polizei (GdP) and Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten (NGG).
According to the study, the unions have gained political clout as a result of the financial crisis. One outcome is the introduction of the minimum wage.