Meeting the Challenge of Global Corporate Power: A Strategy for Global Unionism

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Michael FICHTER , Global Labour University, Berlin, Germany
Today, unions around the world are struggling to fulfill their role as voices of the political and economic interests of working people. In a climate of outsourcing, offshoring, flexibilization and casualization of work, the loss of union power and the deregulation of labor markets has flourished and opened the way for increasing precariousness and agency work. While continuing to fight to protect their hard-won regulatory instruments within their national domains, trade unions have also begun to look for transnational approaches to combat unfettered international competition that is fed by a race to the bottom over labor costs. The challenge for global unionism is in developing a strategy that will serve as a political and organizational answer to the dilemma it faces – namely, how to bring the power of unions, as locally or nationally organized entities, to bear on the transnational regulation gap in labor relations. I argue that there is a need to pursue a global union strategy consisting of three basic elements: First, it is based on the global framework agreement (GFA), a contract negotiated and signed between transnational corporations and Global Union Federations to set minimum standards of labour and human rights and enable unions to build and strengthen their organizational base. Second, it is dimensioned to extend labour relations beyond single transnational corporations to encompass the broader arena of global production networks. And thirdly, it is designed to link together local, national and global unions in transnational union networks to enhance the collective voice and organizational leverage of labour.