Whither Industrial Democracy and International Solidarity?
The debate about what kind of voice, democracy or participation workers should have at the workplace and as citizens in the political arena, has been on-going ever since Sidney and Beatrice Webb coined the term "Industrial Democracy" over a century ago. A variety of alternative visions uphold by different social movements emerged, intended on bringing democracy to the workplace and the political arena. Their struggles spanned the 20th century across the globe.
Unlike a century ago, when the Webbs addressed alliances between unions and the Labour Party, in this era of disaffiliation from labor unions and distrust of political elites, distressed workers and citizens are increasingly attracted to modern day Populist and totalitarian rhetorics that promise divisive, nationalist and sometimes violent solutions to their problems. Besides labor unions and political parties, modern day debates and theories about democratic participation include a variety of civil society groups and activists. What kinds of alternative visions and strategies have emerged? How are labor movements coping with the current capitalist crises and changing power relations? Are labor movements responding to the changes and challenges brought about by the by increased globalization with strategies meant to renationalize labor or rather with transnational strategies fostering international solidarity? I will address these issues with a particular focus on transnational labor issues such as international framework agreements and labor clauses in trade agreements.