Cross-Movement Mobilizing after the Left Governments. Unions and Social Movements Alliances in Latin American Regional Organizing

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:06
Oral Presentation
Bruno DOBRUSIN, CEIL-CONICET, Argentina, CTA, Canada
The experience of cross-movement collaboration in Latin America peaked during the struggles against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Trade unions and social movements brought an alliance that managed to mobilize, lobby and design a strategic platform focusing on an alternative development model to the neoliberal regime. That alliance weakened during the ‘pink tide’ of centre left governments. Unions focused on national contexts with little cross-movement collaboration. The end of the left cycle is bringing back former alliances.

This paper explores the challenges and potentials for the current alliance-building around issues of sustainable development and climate change that trade unions are creating with social movements in Latin America. Specifically, the paper looks into the regional trade union confederation and its positions on development during the past decade and in the present. The shift in governments has put unions and social movements on the same side again, and the possibilities for rebuilding relationships around issues of sustainable development are stronger. The challenges to that alliance today will also be addressed, together with a critique of the role unions have played in defending extractive development models.

A central issue in the paper is the role played by the association of unions around issues of energy democracy, and the relationship with trade unions in the US and Canada, where the debate sustainable development has taken a different, and more confrontational, form for the labour movement.