Saturday, March 19, 2011

LabourStart's 2011 Labour Video of the Year Contest

Online videos are becoming pretty common in the union world, as elsewhere. If you have produced one or if you have enjoyed a union video that you think deserves wider attention, nominate it for the LabourStart Video of the Year award.

Info on how to nominate, as well as last year’s winners and this year’s current nominees can be found HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan: What Unions Are Doing and How You Can Help

This is taken from the text of today's LabourStart weekly mailing.

The international trade union movement has published a lot of information on the web - but chances are you don't know much about it.
Here are some of the pages you might want to check out:

* The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has a page with extensive information on the earthquake, tsunami and what followed. You can send messages of solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Japan from their website. It has also announced a donation of more than US$300,000 directly from the federation to help the people of Japan.

* Public Services International (PSI) has also issued a statement and has set up an aid fund to which unions can donate.

* The ICEM, which represents chemical, energy and mine workers -- whose members are currently involved in the efforts to prevent catastrophes at the nuclear power stations -- has a web page with details on how to pass on donations directly to the Japanese unions, who have set up a special bank account for this purpose.

* The International Metalworkers Federation also has detailed information on how your union can donate money directly to the Japanese unions and has issued a statement.

* Education International has set up a Japan earthquake and tsunami fund to which unions can contribute.

* The IUF (global union for the food and hotel sector) has sent a circular to all its affiliates which includes an email address in Japan to which solidarity messages may be sent --

* UNI Global Union has issued some statements, including one from its general secretary.

* Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) reported on a moment of silence and a visit to the Japanese embassy following an earlier statement.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and does not include what national union trade union centers, national unions and local unions have done.

If your union is affiliated to one of the global union federations listed above (and it probably is), please do check out what they are doing and how your union can be involved.

Please share this message with your fellow trade union members.

Appeal From Japanese Union

Message from Zenroren, Japan
March 14, 2011

Dear Sisters and Brothers around the world,

On behalf of 1.2 million Japanese working people, Zenroren wishes to express our sincere appreciation for unions and individuals around the world for the devastating “Tohoku Pacific Earthquake” which struck northeastern pacific region of Japan at 14:46 (JST) on March 11th, Friday. We also thank many international rescue teams working hard to save victimized people, which came from many countries like Korea, China, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, the US, UK, Germany or France and many others.

The earthquake struck Tohoku and Kanto region (northeast pacific side) was magnitude 9 scale and the biggest one in Japanese recorded history. As you see media reports, you can see overwhelmingly shocking scene particularly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. Nearly 2000 deaths have been confirmed (March 14th), and it will certainly be larger unfortunately in the near future. Very sadly, some of our members and their loved one lost their life, colleagues, workplaces, their house and home town. Zenroren expressed the deepest sympathy and support for members and people in the damaged area.

Zenroren immediately set up the Disaster Response Committee for organizing relief and support activities by Zenroren and friendly unions, headed by President Daikoku on March 12th, and had a meeting on Monday 14th with representatives from industrial federations. We decided that right now the focus has to be on the loss of life and the injured as well as the rescue efforts and meeting the necessities of like, particularly for those evacuated. Since the damaged area is so huge across mainly 5 prefecture and several hundred local municipalities, there is still uncertainty for organizing possible relief and support activities by trade unions, however, our medial, transport or municipal workers unions have been already working very hard to every possible way to provide support for their members and people in the area.

As you also know, the accidents and leakage of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plants made the situation more complicated, and shortage of electricity will be heavy burden for economic activity in Japan. Zenroren recognizes we all need to work in solidarity with as a nation and working people around the world at this unprecedentedly difficult and challenging time.

With that, we call on our friends all over the world to send your solidarity message and financial contribution to Zenroren. Your message will be introduced in Japanese on Zenroren web page, and financial assistance will be used for our relief activities in the damaged area. We thank you in advance for your support and are trying our best to update our webpage and e-mail information to you so far.

In solidarity,

Zenroren Disaster Response Committee for Tohoku Pacific Earthquake

For donation to Zenroren relief activity, the following bank account is available.

Japan Post Bank

Intermediary Bank: Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas NY
Intermediary Bank Swift Code: BKTRUS33
Beneficiary Bank: Japan Post Bank
Branch: Head Office
Beneficiary Bank Address: 3-2, Kasumigaseki-1chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8798
Beneficiary Bank Swift Code: JPPSJPJ1
Beneficiary Bank Chips UID: 427593
Payee Account Number: 00170-3-426272
Payee Address: 4F, 2-4-4, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8462, Japan
Payee Telephone: +81-3-5842-5611
Payee Contact: Keisuke FUSE, Director, International Bureau,
Intermediately Bank: Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt
Intermediary Bank Swift Code: DEUTDEFF
Beneficiary Bank: Japan Post Bank
Branch: Head Office
Beneficiary Bank Address: 3-2, Kasumigaseki-1chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8798
Beneficiary Bank Swift Code: JPPSJPJ1
Payee Account Number: 00170-3-426272
Payee Address: 4F, 2-4-4, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8462, Japan
Payee Telephone: +81-3-5842-5611
Payee Contact: Keisuke FUSE, Director, International Bureau,

Please indicate “Earthquake Relief FUND” in communication space. Also, Zenroren will update its Labor Bank Account shortly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Note on Wisconsin's Labour Chill Moving North by Larry Katz

Larry is a retired CUPE Research Director. He circulated this recently. Well worth a read.

I just finished reading ‘Will Wisconsin's Chill on Labour Move North?’ by Konrad Yakabuski in the Globe and Mail (click HERE to see the article)

It’s a fairly good article for someone I expect is not a big fan of unions and has little direct experience with industrial relations and union culture. Yakabuski suggests that despite the comparative strength of unions here, this is likely to happen. Economic changes and prevailing fiscal constraints in the two countries are not fundamentally different. Governments and other public institutions here, as in the U.S., simply don’t have the revenue needed to maintain existing union rights, benefits and wage expectations, he suggests.

Increasing taxes on already over-burdened taxpayers is not a realistic option. Something has to give.

It is possible, of course, to argue that public employees did not cause today’s economic problems. It is possible to put forward more equitable alternative economic models of development. It is possible to show that the wages and benefits won by unions in the past have helped raise the standard of living for others. I expect unions will do this. But it won’t be enough, I don’t think, to stop the “chill” moving north.

We have two basic problems that have to be addressed if we are going to avoid Yakubuski’s prediction. I’ve said this before on many occasions, but I feel it is worth repeating.

First, unions in Canada have to acknowledge their own vulnerability, stop pretending they have the answers, start new conversations, and establish real democratic connections with their own members. Union members pay their dues, but most do not feel part of the union. A return to the ABC’s of union education and organizing is required. Respectful, open, probing conversations and the deployment of resources in new ways are needed if this is going to happen. Unions need to consider new ways of operating and organizing, and they need to do this with their members.

And secondly, union members in Canada have to reach out to taxpayer-citizen users of public services and programs and build a community of understanding and common interest with them, not merely when in reactive mode to defend a particular service being threatened, but as an ongoing strategic, democratic, political objective. Both go to the heart of what democracy under today’s conditions is in part really all about.

Both need focused, ongoing attention. The insufficient development of both has a lot to do with why unions have been (and remain) on the defensive. It also has a lot to do with many other problems we face as a country.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference - Istanbul, 18-20 November

Want to know more about trade unions in the Middle East? Thse days, who doesn't? LabourStart is hosting a Global Solidarity conference in Istanbul Turkey, November 18-20.

For the last decade Egypt and Turkey have seen the growth of some of the most vibrant democratic unions on the planet. Their views about what's happening in the region will be insightful. So mark the dates and start planning to attend.

We'll also have union people from Tunisia, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan - as well as Kurds and Armenians in attendance. Folks from the USA, Norway, Finland, the Caribbean and Europe, Asia and Africa will be there.

Stay tuned for more details as they become available.