Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
A Call To Arms
The Cuffe Link – Taxpayers Cough Up
Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector
Thanks a Million: Cole’s Lawyers Clean-up
Gnomes Fess Up – Unionism Best For All
Ribs and Rumps Something for Government to Chew On
Workers Online Scoops Global Prize
Let’s Get Real! 2nd Australasian Organising Conference
Guard Knocked Out in Villawood Escape
A Tale of Two Malls
Talk Back Tom
On The Beach
Labor Council of NSW
The Scottish industrial action comes ahead of global peace demonstrations this weekend, which will see union members playing key roles in rallies on every continent.
The leaders of five UK trade unions followed the lead of the rank-and-file train drivers by meeting this week to discuss plans to further disrupt the supplies going to the Gulf, if British troops take part in a US-led war.
These leaders have called for a special TUC conference to debate Tony Blair's push to commit British troops to Iraq - they claim 'massive strikes' can be expected in factories and industries within hours of troops being sent into battle without a UN mandate.
Across the other side of the globe similar threats were made last week by a group of unions in Western Australia who said their members would stop work and disrupt the flow of goods to troops in the Gulf.
Unions everywhere opposed
Trade union voices everywhere have been raised in opposition to the War on Iraq. Unions have come out against the war much faster than they did during the era of Vietnam where unions and their members - especially in the USA - took a lot longer to line up under the peace banner.
The speed with which unions have taken up this call for peace has been much remarked upon.
Many in the USA believe that the huge swelling of support for the peace movement, so early in the process, is largely due to the organisational muscle of the labour movement, delivering thousands of members to rallies - especially from the blue collar unions.
Apart from the comparisons to Vietnam the other comparison being made is with the lead up to World War I when unions all espoused the peace cause but, when the war finally erupted, they meekly lined up behind their separate armies.
A few cracks in international unity
There are at the moment few cracks in this international unity - though some unions such as the American Federation of Teachers have come out in support of Bush and the war effort.
Similarly in Australia the WA branch of the TWU has moved to distance itself from other Perth unions promoting the peace cause and threatening industrial disruption. The TWU leadership in that State has said their members will support Australian troops in the Gulf by not participating in any union boycotts.
However support among unions for the war effort has miniscule support - with unions around the world issuing statements opposing the war and calling on their governments to resist the US pressure.
This does not mean that there is total unanimity. It is possible to discern differences of nuance between different unions and labour movements around the world on how best to push the peace movement forward.
The most important difference is between unions opposed to a War on Iraq without a UN mandate - and those unions who are opposed to the War with or without a UN mandate, because they argue that George Bush has corrupted the UN processes by bribery and bullying.
These different perspectives can be seen across the globe as well as here in Australia.
Joint AFL-CIO and TUC statement
The most significant statements have come from the UK and the USA - their two peak councils the TUC and the AFL-CIO issued a joint statement about the way their respective governments are driving the war effort.
"The goal of our policy now should be to take every possible step to achieve the legitimate ends of disarming Iraq without recourse to war," argued the general secretary of the TUC, John Monks, and his American counterpart, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO in the unions' first ever joint statement.
"We urge you to continue to pressure all concerned to find a resolution to this situation that preserves peace and security for our countries and across the world.
"On behalf of our two labor movements, and on behalf of working people in both countries, we urge you to continue to lead the global fight against totalitarianism and terror through the United Nations to ensure that this fight is carried out by the broadest possible coalition, with the strongest international legitimacy."
In Europe national trade union federations from Italy to Germany have all come out against the war with the leader of the Italian CGIL saying: " I believe we have to adopt a position of clear opposition to this war with no ifs or buts .The great majority of Italians are against the war and will prove this in a clear and effective way next Saturday when they take part in the large peace protest."
The leader of the German DGB said German workers were firmly opposed to any attempt to achieve the goals of disarming Iraq through the use of military force.
Similar statements have come out of trade unions in other none-English speaking countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
You can read more about these different union statements by going to the special LabourStart page on Unions and the War in Iraq: http://www.labourstart.org/iraq/
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online