Up to the end of 1999, the GLI continued to function with a single (unpaid) full-time employee (the GLI Chair). As of January 2000, a voluntary worker has joined the secretariat on a part-time basis (two days per week). She is Swiss, a member of the Public Workers’ Union (SSP/VPOD) and of the Geneva SP and an experienced clerical worker.
The present report covers the period from April 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000. In the period under review, the defining event was the collapse, in early December, of the WTO “millenium round” talks in Seattle. The Seattle demonstrations were an impressive manifestation of the depth, variety and potential strength of popular resistance to corporate domination at a global level. They were also an illustration of the power of the strategy of alliances which has been advocated by the GLI since its inception.
In the last year, GLI work has focused on two issues. The first was an exploration of the potential of cooperation between trade unions and public interest NGOs, precisely in view of coalition building. The second was the organization of informal sector workers in trade unions, which also involves cooperation with NGOs in a difficult and complex environment. Today, the informal sector covers a majority of the global working class and on its organization depends the future of the labour movement. That these should have become the priority issues for the GLI at this time is not accidental but the reflection of the GLI’s close connection to present social issues and of its ability to develop strategies to advance the labour agenda.
Meetings and Publications
In the period under review, the GLI Chair participated in the meetings listed below.
(1) April 15-16: Conférence du Comité de Liaison des ONG de développement auprès de l’Union Européenne: “L’évolution du rôle des ONG dans le développement”, Bruxelles, (Speech: Trade Union and NGO Relations – unpublished)
(2) April 26-28: Centre Catholique International de Genève, Séminaire: “Les impacts de la mondialisation sur les emplois, les revenus et les pauvretés”, Genève, (Intervention: Le syndicalisme dans la mondialisation – unpublished)
(3) June 8: GLI Board Meeting, Geneva
(4) September 1-3: Transport & General Workers’ Union (T&GWU), Seminar: Globalisation and Development, Eastbourne
(5) September 22: Comité d’Information sur les Questions Sociales en Chine, (constitutive meeting), Bruxelles
(6) October 4: IUF/ILO: Seminar on International Trade Union Policy, Turin (Speech on International Trade Unionism and Globalization, unpublished)
(7) October 8: Oeuvre Suisse d’Entraide Ouvrière: Conférence “La solidarité internationale dans une perspective politique et syndicale”, Geneva (Speech to the theme, unpublished).
(8) October 18-22: International Symposium on Trade Unions and the Informal Sector, ILO, Geneva (Position paper for WIEGO: Notes on Trade Unions and the Informal Sector (GLI publication)).
(9) November 12: Syndicat interprofessionnel des Travailleurs (SIT)/Espace Femmes International (EFI)/SOLIFONDS: Meeting with Maria Rhie Chol Soon, Advisor, Korean Women’s Trade Union, Geneva.
(10) November 29 – December 3: T&GWU: Shop Stewards’ Training Course: Globalisation and International Development in Food and Agriculture, Eastbourne (Introduction to a discussion on international trade union action, unpublished)
(11) December 3-5: Finnish NGDO-EU Liaison Committee and Service Centre for Development Cooperation, Citizen’s Agenda 2000 Forum, Tampere (Speech: Labour Rights in the Trade Policy of the EU (GLI publication)).
(12) December 8-9: ILO/WIEGO Seminar on Social Problems for Women in the Informal Economy, ILO, Geneva
(13) December 14-17: ICFTU/Georgian Trade Union Amalgamation: Preparatory Seminar to Social Dimensions Conference, Tbilisi (Speech on International Trade Unionism, unpublished)
(14) January 28-29: SGB/SABZ/SOLIFONDS: Seminar: “Gewerkschaftliche Strategien zu WTO und Entwicklung”, Zürich (Speech, unpublished)
(15) March 10-11: Diskussions-Retraite (chaired by Vasco Pedrina, Paul Rechsteiner), Rotschuo
(16) March 13: IRENE/Comisió Obrera Nacional de Catalunya: Seminario: La Solidaridad Internacional y la Globalización _ ¿Cual es el Papel del Sindicato?, Barcelona (Speech to the theme, unpublished)
(17) March 31: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva 2000 Seminar: “The Role of Civil Society in Policy Formulation and Service Provision”, New York (Speech: Organized labor and social development)
In addition to these meetings, the GLI Chair participated in the following meetings in other capacities:
In his capacity of president of the International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations:
(18) May 3-4: Euro-Japan Institute for Law and Business, Conference: Multinational Enterprises and the Social Challenges of the XXIst Century, Leuven.
(19) May 14-16: Workers’ Education Association (England and Scotland), Annual Conference, Portsmouth (Address, published in WEA Sunday Reporter (conference journal)
(20) June 17-19: IFWEA Executive Committee, Euro-WEA Annual General Meeting, ABF Conference “Ordet Fritt”, Luleå
(21) July 23-25: Association Club Mohamed Ali de la Culture Ouvrière (ACMACO), 6ème Université d’été: “Emploi et Droits Sociaux dans la Zone Euro-Méditerranéenne”, Gammarth (Speech on Unions and the Informal Sector, unpublished)
(22) September 24: Euro-WEA Executive Committee, Bruxelles
(23) October 25-27: Primero Encuentro Regional para América Latina de FIAET: “Educación de los trabajadores y derechos laborales fundamentales en un contexto de globalización”, Lima (Speech on the international labour movement and globalization, unpublished)
(24) January 15-19: IFWEA Executive Committee and IFWEA International Study Circles Evaluation, Manchester
(25) February 1-2: IMF/IFWEA Meeting on Magna Action Project, IMF, Geneva
(26) February 25-26: Euro-WEA Executive Committee, Vienna
In his capacity of Board member of the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Développement (IUED):
Board meetings: April 28 and July 7 in 1999, March 29, 2000 (in Geneva).
In his capacity of Board member of the Collège du Travail, Geneva:
Board meetings April 23, November 26, 1999 (in Geneva).
Publications in the period under review, in addition to those mentioned above, also include:
“Trade unions and NGOs in social development – a necessary partnership” (commissioned by UNRISD, issued as a GLI publication, later to be published by UNRISD together with other contributions as a preparation for the Geneva 2000 Social Summit).
Réinventer la politique du mouvement syndical was published by ATTAC together with other contributions in a volume entitled: “Contre la dictature des marchés” (Paris, 1999)
Die Rolle der Politik in der Globalisierung was published by the ÖGB in an anthology entitled: “Alternativen zum Neoliberalismus” (Vienna, 1999)
EU enlargement in the context of globalization: problems of political society was published by the Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Entwicklungshilfe on behalf of the Austrian Platform of Development NGOs in the EU in an anthology entitled: “The Enlargement of the EU and the Role of the NGDOs”, (Vienna, 1999).
An article on the GLI appeared in Le Nouvel Observateur (Paris), Nr. 1834 (December 30, 1999 – January 5, 2000).
In the period under review, the GLI Chair advised the following organizations:
Federation HORIA, Romania (organizational matters)
Building and Industrial Union (GBI/SIB), Switzerland (international activities)
The GLI Chair participated in the constitution of ACTARES, a Swiss association of shareholders for a sustainable economy (an outgrowth of CANES, the Nestlé shareholders’ association). He continues on the editorial board of Antipode, a “radical journal of geography” (UK/US).
Projects Completed in 1999
Trade Unions and NGOs. The GLI Chair participated in the drafting of a survey and position paper on the cooperation between trade unions (nationally and internationally) with NGOs, commissioned by the Social Development Division of the UK Department for International Development through the Euro-WEA. This work subsequently formed the basis for a further study on the same subject commissioned by UNRISD (see above). Cooperation with UNRISD continues.
In 1999, the British Transport and General Workers’ Union started a membership education project for international trade union activity, in cooperation with the IFWEA and several ITSs (see supplement to 1998 activities report). The GLI Chair participated in the preparation of the program and in its first stage (Globalisation and International Development in Food and Agriculture).
GLI Website: http://www.global-labour.org Mary Sayer in Manchester has been working on it on a volunteer basis. It will initially contain sections in English, French, German, Spanish and Scandinavian languages, with basic information about the GLI (mission statement, Board and Advisory Board members, annual reports), GLI publications in their original language, links to other international labour websites, reference to resources and the full text of Edo Fimmen’s “Labour’s Alternative” (typed by a volunteer worker) with an introduction by the GLI Chair. The full text of Julius Braunthal’s “The Tragedy of European Labour”, also typed by a volunteer worker, will be made available later in the year after editing.
Labour History Website. The labour history website is currently under construction (by Gavin MacFadyen, London). A section on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is nearly completed, and a section on Japan has been started. It will initially contain the full text of Sen Katayama’s “Labour Movement in Japan” (originally published by Charles H. Kerr, Chicago, 1918). We hope to put it on the web this year
International Solidarity Action. It will be recalled (see 1998 report) that this project is a survey of the obstacles (legal and contractual) to the exercise of the right to strike on international solidarity issues in a representative number of countries world-wide. The survey will also describe what actions are being taken by unions to overcome existing legal obstacles and what kind of solidarity actions are being taken as an exercise of existing rights or in spite of an absence of rights. The project is being conducted by Paul Germanotta with the support of the ILO. An application has been made to extend the program to the end of this year. Reports on the following countries have been completed so far: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Uruguay. Reports on Denmark, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US are partially completed.
WIEGO Organization and Representation Program. WIEGO http://www.wiego.org (Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing – see 1998 report) has asked the GLI to coordinate this program, the purpose of which is to set up an international organization of informal sector workers’ unions and other organizations (associations, co-ops, etc.), as well as to secure representation and participation facilities for informal sector workers’ organizations in the international and national institutions where their interests need to be defended. The program will run for three years (2000-2002) and has a budget of USD70,000 per year. This will take an estimated one third of the time of the GLI.
The 1998 report on activities pointed out the need for a book on the international labour movement (history, structures, policies and activities) and the Board meeting of June 8, 1999 agreed that a brochure on the future of the labour movement was also needed. Although both projects are at the core of the GLI mandate, other priorities arising in the course of the last year (essentially the Trade Union/NGO project and the WIEGO project) prevented the GLI Chair from starting work in this direction. Both projects remain on the agenda.
On the request of the IUF Regional Committee for Asia and the Pacific, the GLI Chair agreed to write a history of IUF activities in that region (1961-1991). Although funding for this project is not yet secured, preliminary work will start this year.
Ongoing projects will of course be pursued in the coming period.
The following have joined the Advisory Board in the period under review: Mahmoud Ben Romdane teaches at Tunis University, is the president of Amnesty International (Tunisia) and is on the Council of the Tunisian workers’ education association ACMACO; Gérard Fonteneau (France) is a Councellor at the ETUC, originally from the CFDT (Hacuitex) later at the WCL and the ILO; and Werner Thönnessen (Germany), originally from IG Metall and a former Assistant General Secretary of the International Metal Workers’ Federation. Thönnessen has donated a part of his library (relating to socialist and labour movements) to the GLI.
Mario Solórzano Martínez, a founder of the Social-Democratic Party of Guatemala and its general secretary, died of a heart attack on September 24 last year. He was exiled for four years under the regime of Lucas Garcia and ran for president on the PSD ticket on his return in 1984. Under the presidency of Serrano Elías he became Minister of Labour and was the first elected official to resign when the president infringed the constitutional order. He was also a Vice President of the Socialist International. As an honorary advisor of the Latin American Regional Organization of the IUF he actively intervened to defend workers’ rights in conflicts at La Mariposa (Pepsico) and at the banana plantations Mopá and Panorama (Del Monte).
Lage Andréasson (Sweden)
Mahmoud Ben Romdane (Tunisia)
Daniel Benedict (Canada)
Mahjoub Benseddik (Morocco)
Elaine Bernard (USA)
Ela Bhatt (India)
Manuel Bonmati Portillo (Spain)
Christiane Brunner (Switzerland)
Patricia Cayo Sexton (USA)
Lee Cheuk Yan (China/Hong Kong)
Sheila Conroy (Ireland)
Gérard Fonteneau (France)
Angelino Garzon (Colombia)
Susan George (USA/France) Julio Godio (Argentina)
Han Dong Fang (China)
Jeff Harrod (UK)
Shoichiro Hatsuoka (Japan)
Walter Kendall (UK)
Birgit Mahnkopf (Germany)
Kathini Maloba-Caines (Kenya)
Tony Mazzocchi (USA)
Vasco Pedrina (Switzerland)
Susan Schurman (USA)
Bala Tampoe (Sri Lanka)
Werner Thönnessen (Germany)
José Maria Zufiaur (Spain)
A new pentium computer with a Word 95 program was purchased in December and Sören Söderling again generously gave of his time to set it up. The old computer (with a Word 6 program) remains in operation for word processing.
Oscar and Nora Payuyo have been responsible for cleaning and maintenance and have been helpful in printing GLI documents and in collecting the mail in the absence of the GLI Chair
Approximately 600 letters were sent out in 1999 and approximately 150 in the first three months of 2000 (500 and 150 for the same periods in 1998 and 1999).
Financial Report and Administration
A statement of income and expenditure, a balance sheet, the auditor’s report and a budget for 2000 are attached. Ms. Mariane Grobet-Wellner keeps the GLI accounts and Mr. J.-J. Mermier (CIFISOR S.A.) is the auditor.
The financial situation has significantly improved: instead of a projected loss of CHF2000 (1999 budget) the accounts for 1999 show a surplus of CHF5,490.92.
The budget for 2000 takes into account additional income as well as additional expenditure linked to the WIEGO project.