Category Archives: International Labor

Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’ (Peter Waterman)

Labour-StartApril 16, 2016

Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’ 

Peter Waterman
peterwaterman1936@gmail.com 

Eric Lee is best-known as the owner/coordinator of two international labour sites online. LabourStart is a unique and humungous news and solidarity site, fed by hundreds of volunteers. It is heavily identified with the Eurocentric and Social-Liberal International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). UnionBook is his pinboard or sandbox, on which contributors can post almost anything, or in which they can play, without any visible effect, with others.[1]

Eric, moreover, is organizing, 2016, a rather broad LabourStart Conference in Toronto, Canada this year. And he is this same year also the recipient of two awards for his online labour solidarity work, one in the UK, one in Norway.

I was therefore astounded to see his recent declaration, Proud to be a Zionist, a statement illustrated by a Left Zionist poster, with Hebrew lettering, from 1944: that is from before Israel was even created! Eric also identifies with the Israeli kibbutzim (he once lived and worked in one), though the numbers and socialist inspiration of these has been in decline for many years. As a US Left (?) Zionist paper puts it (in a piece worth reading in full) ‘What Actually Undermined the Kibbutz’:

Over the past quarter-century, most of Israel’s 270 kibbutzim have abandoned the founders’ socialist credo, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,’ and replaced it with the new ‘privatized’ kibbutz.

So Eric’s Pride seems to be inspired by a Left Zionist Israel (real or aspirational) of the 1940s-50s, rather than the neo-liberal, racist, religious-conservative, projection of the present day. In the 1940s-50s Israel was almost universally supported by at least the Western trade union internationals, and the major Western (and even Non-Western) national unions. Today there is a growing international union movement, modeled on the Anti-Apartheid one, that identifies with the Palestinian unions and people, and calls for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Now, like Eric Lee, I am a Jewish socialist and labour internationalist, both on the Ground (modestly) and in the Cloud (even more so). Shocked by his Zionist Pride statement, I decided that rather than dissecting his more-than-somewhat chauvinist[2] declaration, I would offer my own take on the Israel/Palestine situation. This is part of a general 2014 paper on the current crisis of union internationalism. It considers different international labour responses to that conflict, including Eric Lee’s Labour Zionist one. The relevant section begins as follows:

I have identified with Palestine Solidarity and/or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, particularly in so far as this has involved unions and the wider labour movement. More so since the 2014 Israeli outrage in Gaza that scandalized even liberal Zionists abroad and former IDF intelligence unit soldiers in Israel. Given the Balkanisation/Ghettoization of Palestine, I have come to consider any UN-type ‘two-state’ solution as dead in the water (or should one here say ‘desert’ – including those caused by long-standing and continuing Israeli destruction of Palestine’s ecology?). If we are not to continue towards Israel’s ‘Final Solution of the Arab Problem’, then I see a one-state solution as the only democratic one. It may be distant (so is a post-capitalist world!) yet it provides a horizon toward which we must move.

The section continues with this consideration (edited) of the Labour Zionist position:

The Labour Zionist. Though not confined to one person, this position is

exemplified by … Eric Lee … whose position reminds me of that of Western Communists as Stalinist Russia stagnated and declined. He has been busy with triumphalist celebration of Israel’s wars, as well as the successes of the Zionist Histadrut within the [traditional trade unions] in general and the ITUC in particular. He has, however, increasingly shifted, if uncertainly, to sobering reflections on the success of the BDS/Palestine-solidarity movement, though this is not to the point of recognizing any Israeli responsibility [for this]. Two pro-Israeli sites he has either created or been connected with, TULIP (Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine) and TUFI (Trade Union Friends of Israel) appear to have run out of steam late-2013.[3] Eric (with whom I fruitfully dialogued on [international labour communication by computer] in the 1990s) has also increasingly withdrawn his pro-Israeli/Histadrut news, views and personal attachments from LabourStart and UnionBook, concentrating them on his own blogsite (from which he has also removed his LabourStart/UnionBook affiliations!). Unlike many Western Communists (myself amongst them after the Soviet invasion of Communist Czechoslovakia) he has not yet had his ‘1968 Moment’ – that of abandoning a fundamentalist state-nationalism and an inevitably ‘particularistic internationalism’, in favour of the dialogical/dialectical internationalism that his remarkable and pioneering online creations make possible.

Eric Lee does a disservice to both his online and offline LabourStart activity by his continued total identification with one particular state (compare that of Communist internationalists with the Soviet Union). That he has separated his Zionism from LabourStart is a result, evidently, of 1) Israel’s increasing violation of human rights both within the country and in Palestine, 2) the increasing inter/national union opposition to Israel, and 3) the international criticism made of his continuing Zionism over the years. This shows, amongst other things, a British union refusing funds for LabourStart on the grounds of his Zionism, as well as a failure to achieve a place on the elected board of Amnesty International in the UK. Indeed, a condemnation of Eric’s support for the Israeli Zionist union confederation, Histadrut, also heavily marked a LabourStart conference in Turkey, 2011! Lee has consequently played down his identification with that body.

In so far as left, labour, socialist and human rights campaigning internationally, has caused Eric to retreat from using LabourStart to promote Zionism (and Israeli Zionist unionism), I am convinced that further campaigning at LabourStart conferences, and award-winning ceremonies, is necessary and would be to the advantage of such internationalism as LabourStart/UnionBook might represent.

I would like to forestall any argument that it is sufficient if Eric separates his Zionism from LabourStart. This would not stand up for anyone who on one of his sites promoted his labour internationalism and on another expressed anti-semitism, sexism, Maoism or Trumpism.

Eric Lee has shown he is sensitive to the forward march of the union BDS movement, and to criticism of his Israeli chauvinism. A widening campaign might oblige him to recognize there is a fundamental contradiction between national chauvinism and labour internationalism.

The Hague
20.04.16

[1] Full disclosure: I was for a year or two an active contributor to UnionBook. This was when I thought it had potential as a site of dialogue, whilst LabourStart is a ‘broadcaster’, collecting news to a centre, then sending this out. I was twice suspended from UB by Eric Lee, the second time definitively. I decided to focus my energy elsewhere.

[2] Merriam-Webster definition: 1 :  excessive or blind patriotism — compare jingoism, 2 :  undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs or has belonged.

[3] Update, April 18, 2016: The TULIP site has evidently been revived, though it seems to have forgotten which Palestinian unions it now ‘links’ with.

 

Letters: Israel boycott ban is anti-democratic (The Independent)

The Independent

Letters: Israel boycott ban is anti-democratic

The Government’s attempts to block public bodies from boycotting and divesting from companies involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians undermines local democracy in order to shield Israel from criticism (“Boycott of Israeli goods to be criminal offence”, 15 February).

Local councils, student unions, trade unions, political parties and other democratic bodies across the UK have voted to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). BDS is a peaceful and effective way of challenging the international support that Israel receives despite its ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law.

The Government’s proposal would effectively force local councils and other public bodies to unethically invest in Israel’s occupation and in arms companies.

Palestinians launched the BDS movement more than 10 years ago because governments, including our own, fail to hold Israel to account for its deliberate attacks on Palestinians and other war crimes. Instead, the UK sells Israel the weapons it needs to attack Palestinians with impunity.

Rather than attacking local democracy and insulating Israel from the consequences of its human rights abuses, the UK government should take steps in support of freedom, justice and equality.

An end to the arms  trade with Israel would  be a good start.

Ahdaf Soueif

Roger Waters 

Tommy Sheppard MP

Cat Smith MP

Malia Bouattia

NUS Black Students’ Officer

Len McCluskey

General Secretary, Unite the Union

Alex Cunningham MP

Chris Stephens MP

Clive Betts MP

Dave Anderson MP

Kate Osamor MP

Marie Rimmer MP

Martyn Day MP

Nic Dakin MP

Steven Paterson MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Louise Haigh MP

Lord Ahmed Nazir

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Matt Wrack, General Secretary FBU

Mick Whelan, General Secretary ASLEF

Tim Roache, General Secretary Elect GMB

Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT

Piers Telemancque, Vice president Society and Citizenship, NUS

Shelly Asquith – Vice President Welfare, NUS

Ken Loach, 

Mark Thomas,

Rizwan Ahmed,

Mike Leigh,

Andrew Smith, Campaign Against Arms Trade

Alexei Sayle

Anna Carteret

April De Angelis,

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Caryl Churchill,  

Fionn Travers-Smith, Move Your Money

Gillian Slovo,

Hari Kunzru,

Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Jeremy Hardy,

Jo Ram, Community Reinvest

Joel Benjamin, Community Reinvest

John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want

Maggie Steed,

Maxine Peake,

Mick Bowman, Newcastle City Council

Michael Radford,

Miriam Margolyes,

Niall Buggy,

Pauline Melville,

Peter Kosminsky,

Rachel Holmes,

Riya Hassan, Palestinian BDS National Committee

Robert Wyatt,

Vica Rogers, Debt Resistance UK

BDS Campaign Expanding: Let’s Forge Ahead (CUPW)

Thursday February 11 2016
2015-2019/070

At its 2008 Convention, CUPW adopted a resolution supporting the BDS campaign. The call for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel was made by more than 175 Palestinian unions, groups and organizations in 2005, with a view to forcing the State of Israel to negotiate peace and recognize the right of Palestinians to self‑determination.

Ten years later, we know that international pressure is now playing a significant role in leading to the resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict. Here is a look at CUPW’s current solidarity work with Palestine:

CONCRETE ACTION

  • In late 2015, the National Executive Board adopted a project to support the work of the Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union (PPSWU). The project is aimed at financially supporting the preparation of the PPSWU’s Annual Conference, which is scheduled for May of this year.
  • The Union is now supporting STOP THE WALL, a Palestinian organization that coordinates the activities of groups involved in mobilizing local residents who are directly affected by the Separation Wall. You can visit its website at www.stopthewall.org. The Union encourages you to support this organization.
  • The Union also invites you to visit the website of WE ARE NOT NUMBERS (www.wearenotnumbers.org), where Palestinians share their day‑to‑day stories. Theirs is a call to sharing and solidarity.
  • The Union has agreed to fund a request by Independent Jewish Voices, which is sponsoring a tour by Hiedar Abu Thosh, a Palestinian who was driven from his village (Imwas) in 1967 by the Israeli army. Canada Park, financed by the Jewish National Fund of Canada, was built on the site of his village. His tour dates will be announced at a later date.

THE BDS Campaign!

There are several ways of demonstrating our solidarity and support for the BDS campaign:

Boycott:

  • SodaStream, an illegal product manufactured in an illegal Jewish settlement under an illegal occupation, but still sold at The Bay, Canadian Tire, Target, and Staples;
  • products with a barcode starting with “729” (Israel);
  • Ahava cosmetics, which are manufactured from Dead Sea minerals (in occupied territory), sold at The Bay;
  • products like underwear and hydration systems produced by Israeli defence industries, which are sold at Mountain Equipment Coop;
  • Indigo/Chapters, whose shareholders support the Israeli military through the Heseg Foundation.

Divestment:

  • Request the withdrawal of our Pension Plan investments in Israeli companies like Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT Industries and United Technologies;
  • suspend funding, financial or organizational support and recognition of Israeli research centres or cultural programs.

Sanctions:

Demand that the federal government:

  • vote in favour of resolutions censuring Israel for its violations of international law (the 5th Geneva Convention);
  • ban any imports from the occupied territories;
  • terminate its Free Trade Agreement with Israel.

Let’s show our solidarity with the palestinian people

 

Mike Palecek
National President

Support the struggle of the Palestinian people and the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)

العماϝ مع والنضاϝ للتضامن الدولية العمل شبϜة
International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles
Red Sindical Internacional de Solidariedad y de Luchas
Réseau Syndical International de Solidarité et de Luttes
Rede Sindical Internacional de Solidariedade e Lutas
www.laboursolidarity.org

August 14, 2015

Support the struggle of the Palestinian people and the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)

67 years after the Nakba, Palestinians still struggle for independence and the right of return. Workers and unions in Palestine have a long tradition of participation and sacrifice in this struggle, which dates back to the years of British rule.

Palestinians face the continued colonial and apartheid policies. Gazans are exposed to repeated military aggressions (2200 more died over the summer 2014) and decimating economic siege; Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are dispossessed of their homes and land; Palestinians living in 1948 territories are discriminate by more than 30 racist laws; Palestinian refugees are prevented from their right of return. These racist Israeli policies rule out any possibility of political organization by the people for their rights, and prevent any productive economic development that could enable the Palestinian people to live in dignity.

Based on this colonial situation, all development plans imposed on Palestinians are based on neo-liberal policies that favour the interests of large companies, local and international, while leading to rising inequality in society. The capacity to mobilize for social and political rights in Palestine is questioned, both by colonial domination, within the Palestinian autonomy, by the unwavering support of Western governments for the Israeli State, and finally by economic and security coordination between the Israeli state and the Palestinian National Authority.

International Labour network of solidarity and struggles must mitigate the failure of States, support the resistance and Palestinian independent unions, and oppose any attempt to restrict or criminalize the solidarity of workers and citizens worldwide with Palestine.

Noting the failure of the Oslo process, our commitment is reflected in the international BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which aims to put pressure on Israel until Palestinian rights are respected:

 The end of the occupation and colonization, the dismantling of the Wall and the end of the Gaza blockade.

 Equal rights for Palestinians living in 1948 territories, the end of apartheid and the release of political prisoners.

 The implementation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

 Self-determination for Palestinians, for which the end of the racist Zionist State is a requirement.

Our international union network helps make the BDS campaign more effective by coordinating, worldwide:

 Common boycott targets, such as boats of the Israeli company Zim, medication of the Israeli drug company Teva, Mekhorot water company, etc. and the necessary break of any ties with the racist Israeli union Histadrut

 Common divestment targets, such as the French phone company Orange, accomplice of colonization in Palestine, all those who collaborate with Israeli military companies such as Elbit, the British G4S, …

 Common requirement for sanctions, that the State of Israel be brought before the International Criminal Court to account for its crimes, and the demand for all governments to break economic, military and diplomatic ties with Israeli State.


Les organisations membres du Réseau syndical international de solidarité et de lutte Organisations syndicales nationales interprofessionnelles  Central Sindical e Popular Conlutas (CSP-Conlutas) – Brésil.  Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) – Etat espagnol.  Union syndicale Solidaires (Solidaires) – France.  Confédération Générale du Travail du Burkina (CGT-B) – Burkina.  Confederation of Indonesia People’s Movement (KPRI) – Indonésie.  Confederación Intersindical (Intersindical) – Etat espagnol.  Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP) – Algérie.   Batay Ouvriye – Haïti.  Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) – Italie.  Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs – Solidarité Ouvrière (CNT SO) – France.  Sindicato de Comisiones de Base (CO.BAS) – Etat espagnol.  Organisation Générale Indépendante des Travailleurs et Travailleuses d’Haïti (OGTHI) – Haïti.  Sindacato Intercategoriale Cobas (SI COBAS) – Italie.  Confédération Nationale du Travail (CNT-f) – France.  Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (IAC) – Catalogne.  Union Générale des Travailleurs Sahraouis (UGTSARIO) – Sahara occidental.  Ezker Sindikalaren Konbergentzia (ESK) – Pays basque.  Confédération Nationale de Travailleurs du Sénégal Forces du Changement (CNTS/FC) – Sénégal.  Independent Trade Unions for Egyptian Federation (EFITU) – Egypte.  Sindicato Autorganizzato Lavorator COBAS (SIAL-COBAS) – Italie.  General Federation of Independent Unions (GFIU) – Palestine.  Confederación de la Clase Trabajadora (CCT) – Paraguay.  Red Solidaria de Trabajadores – Perou Organisations syndicales nationales professionnelles  National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT/TUC) – Grande-Bretagne.  Centrale Nationale des Employés – Confédération Syndicale Chrétienne (CNE/CSC) – Belgique.  Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Sistema Agroalimentario (SINALTRAINAL/CUT) – Colombie.  Fédération Générale des Postes, Telecom et Centres d’appel – Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (FGPTT/UGTT) – Tunisie.  Trade Union in Ethnodata – Trade Union of Empoyees in the Outsourcing Companies in the financial sector – Grèce.  Syndicat national des travailleurs des services de la santé humaine (SYNTRASEH) – Bénin  Sindicato dos Trabalhadores da Fiocruz (ASFOC-SN) – Brésil.  Organizzazione Sindicati Autonomi e di Base Ferrovie (ORSA Ferrovie) – Italie.  Union Nationale des Normaliens d’Haïti (UNNOH) – Haïti.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Scuola Università Ricerca (CUB SUR) – Italie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Immigrazione (CUB Immigrazione) – Italie.  Coordinamento Autorganizzato Trasporti (CAT) – Italie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Credito e Assicurazioni (CUB SALLCA) – Italie.  Syndicat des travailleurs du rail – Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Mali (SYTRAIL/UNTM) – Mali.  Gıda Sanayii İşçileri Sendikası – Devrimci İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu (GIDA-IŞ/DISK) – Turquie.  Syndicat National des Travailleurs du Petit Train Bleu/SA (SNTPTB) – Sénégal.  Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios Administrativos de la Caja de Seguro Social (ANFACSS) – Panama.  Conseil des Lycées d’Algérie (CLA) – Algérie.  Confederazione Unitaria di Base Trasporti (CUB Trasporti) – Italie.  Syndicat de l’Enseignement Supérieur Solidaire (SESS) – Algérie.  Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union (PPSWU) – Palestine.  Union Syndicale Etudiante (USE) – Belgique.  Sindicato dos Trabalhadores de Call Center (STCC) – Portugal.  Sindicato Unitario de Trabajadores Petroleros (Sinutapetrolgas) – Venezuela.  Alianza de Trabajadores de la Salud y Empleados Publicos – Mexique.  Canadian Union of Postal Workers / Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des postes (CUPW-STTP) – Canada. Organisations syndicales locales  Trades Union Congress, Liverpool (TUC Liverpool) – Angleterre.  Sindacato Territoriale Autorganizzato, Brescia (ORMA Brescia) – Italie.  Fédération syndicale SUD Service public, canton de Vaud (SUD Vaud) – Suisse  Sindicato Unitario de Catalunya (SU Metro) – Catalogne.  Türkiye DERİ-İŞ Sendikasi, Tuzla et Izmir (DERİ-İŞ Tuzla et Izmir) – Turquie.  L’autre syndicat, canton de Vaud (L’autre syndicat) – Suisse  Centrale Générale des Services Publics FGTB, Ville de Bruxelles (CGSP/FGTB Bruxelles) – Belgique  Arbeitskreis Internationalismus IG Metall, Berlin (IG Metall Berlin) – Allemagne  Sindicato Unificado de Trabajadores de la Educación de Buenos Aires, Bahia Blanca -(SUTEBA/CTA de los trabajadores Bahia Blanca) – Argentine  Sindicato del Petróleo y Gas Privado del Chubut/CGT – Argentine. Organisations syndicales internationales  Industrial Workers of the World – International Solidarity Commission (IWW) Courants, tendances ou réseaux syndicaux  Transnationals Information Exchange Germany (TIE Germany) – Allemagne.  Emancipation tendance intersyndicale (Emancipation) – France.  Globalization Monitor (Gmo) – Hong Kong.  Courant Syndicaliste Révolutionnaire (CSR) – France.  No Austerity – Coordinamento delle lotte – Italie.  Solidarité Socialiste avec les Travailleurs en Iran (SSTI) – France.  Basis Initiative Solidarität (BASO) – Allemagne.  LabourNet Germany – Allemagne.  Resistenza Operaia – operai Fiat-Irisbus – Italie.

Zero Tolerance for Bullies (Canadian Union of Postal Workers)

CUPW

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Download in PDF format: Bulletin 002 Zero Tolerance for Bullies-EN

Zero Tolerance for Bullies

Wednesday May 13 2015
2015-20189/2

The federal government has recently suggested that they may try to criminalize criticism of Israel and its policies, as part of a “zero tolerance” policy on hate speech. Their new definition of hate speech may include support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is having its intended effect: to exert real pressure on the state of Israel to review and repeal its apartheid policies that oppress the Palestinian people.

CUPW has had constructive debate within the union, and has resolved democratically to support the BDS movement. We work for self-determination and human rights for the Palestinian people and an end to oppression and occupation. As it once did in South Africa, economic divestment and boycott is proving to be an effective part of the international effort.

This spring, more than 70 organizations joined us in signing a statement on defending the right to criticize the state of Israel and support the BDS movement. We stand together with peace organizations, labour organizations, indigenous groups, governments and others.

This attack against free speech is clearly designed to have a chilling effect, and to stifle genuine discussion about this issue. We will not be intimidated by the government’s policies. CUPW will never apologize for standing up for peace and justice everywhere. As long as the occupation continues, CUPW will work towards a peaceful solution which ensures the safety and the dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians. And no Prime Minister will tell us what we are allowed or not allowed to talk about.

Peace and justice for all: the struggle continues.

In Solidarity,

Mike Palecek
National President

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902 Endorses Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel

CUPE Logo

1 May 2015

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902 Endorses Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel

In a landslide vote at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 27 April 2015, the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3902 voted to endorse the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

CUPE 3902 represents over 7,000 teaching assistants, course instructors, and sessional faculty at the University of Toronto. This vote comes on the heels of the union’s Unit 1 strike earlier this year.

“After impassioned debate, members present at the CUPE 3902 Annual General Meeting on April 27 showed their strong support for the BDS campaign,” said Erin Black, CUPE 3902 chairperson. She added, “The motion of support was carried by a very clear majority.”

During the recent strike at the University of Toronto, Palestinian students and faculty from Al Quds University sent a message of solidarity, and affirmed that the struggle for access to higher education and workers’ rights is a common struggle from Palestine to Turtle Island. CUPE 3902 has now expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli settler colonial and apartheid system.

The resolution included support for the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) divestment campaign which calls on the University of Toronto to divest from companies that facilitate and profit from violations of international law in Palestine. Companies targeted for divestment include Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard and Lockheed Martin.

“UTGSU regards this as an important victory for the BDS work on campus and across the country,” said UTGSU BDS Committee chairperson, Susanne Waldorf. “CUPE 3902 members have affirmed their commitment to BDS and the divestment campaign,” added Waldorf.

CUPE 3902 joins CUPE Ontario, CUPE 3903 at York University and CUPE 3906 at McMaster University, which have also passed resolutions endorsing BDS, heeding Palestinian trade unions and popular movements’ calls for international solidarity.

This resolution is a milestone for BDS actions in North America. It supports the Palestinian trade unionist call for a military embargo of Israel, and demands that the University of Toronto sever partnerships with Israeli universities that are complicit in Israel’s colonial and racist apartheid policies and its ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Below is the full text of the CUPE 3902 resolution:

WHEREAS, the Palestinian trade union movement, with support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions and its affiliates, is unanimously calling on trade unions internationally to take immediate action to stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

THEREFORE, Be it resolved that CUPE 3902,
1) dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation and support the GSU’s divestment campaign;
2) support the Palestinian trade-union movement’s call for a military embargo on Israel;
3) share information with members about the siege and destruction of Gaza;
4) ask members to boycott Israeli commercial products and companies that actively support the violation of human rights;
5) recommend that the University as well as the members of our Local withdraw their participation from partnerships with Israeli universities that actively support the violation of Palestinian human rights.

For media inquiries, contact:
Susanne Waldorf, Chair, UTGSU BDS Committee
647-781-4714
divest@utgsu.ca 

La CSN se joint au mouvement mondial

CSN
Campagne « Boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions » contre Israël

La CSN se joint au mouvement mondial

Réunis lors d’une séance du bureau confédéral la semaine dernière, les délégué-es des fédérations et des conseils centraux de la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) ont voté une proposition de joindre la campagne internationale « Boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions » contre Israël (BDS).

La CSN répond solidairement à l’appel lancé en juillet 2014 par des syndicats palestiniens qui souhaitent intensifier le mouvement pacifique né en 2005 pour amener Israël à respecter le droit international, à mettre fin à l’occupation militaire de Gaza et de la Cisjordanie, à respecter les droits des réfugié-es palestiniens et à cesser la discrimination raciale visant des citoyens palestiniens d’Israël. La CSN rejoint ainsi 26 autres organisations québécoises membres de la Coalition BDS-Québec et des centaines d’autres à travers le monde.

« Depuis des décennies, Israël poursuit d’une façon éhontée et avec violence une politique de colonisation des territoires palestiniens et bafoue le droit international à l’encontre du peuple palestinien, a expliqué le vice-président de la CSN, Jean Lacharité. Nous souhaitons que la campagne BDS réussisse à faire entendre raison à Israël et à ses alliés, là où ont échoué des centaines de résolutions de l’ONU et une multitude de démarches diplomatiques pour la justice et la paix. »

Le Canada, « meilleur ami d’Israël »
Pour la CSN, la campagne BDS doit être particulièrement active au Canada et au Québec en raison de la profondeur des liens que tisse le gouvernement Harper avec celui d’Israël. « Au cours des dernières années, l’appui inconditionnel donné par les conservateurs à Israël et à ses politiques d’apartheid est gênant, a poursuivi Jean Lacharité. Ils essaient maintenant de faire l’amalgame entre cette campagne et l’antisémitisme, alors que la campagne BDS est pacifique et reconnaît à Israël le droit d’exister dans les limites entendues avant 1967. Il est de notre responsabilité d’être solidaires de la population et des syndicats palestiniens en menant cette campagne non violente pour faire respecter les droits humains dans cette région du globe. »

Les objectifs de BDS

Les organisations qui appuient la campagne internationale BDS demandent de :

  1. Cesser toute importation de biens israéliens ou toute exportation de biens, productions culturelles ou activités académiques en Israël;
  2. Retirer les investissements dans les obligations israéliennes et dans les entreprises et les banques complices de l’occupation israélienne et des violations des droits de la personne;
  3. Soutenir l’appel des groupes palestiniens pour un embargo militaire contre Israël;
  4. Diffuser auprès de nos membres de l’information concernant le siège et la destruction de Gaza et leur demander de boycotter les produits d’Israël et de partager leurs connaissances avec leur famille, leurs collègues et leurs amis.

Au cours des prochains mois, en plus de participer aux activités de la Coalition BDS-Québec, la CSN mènera une campagne auprès de ses membres pour les informer des objectifs poursuivis par le mouvement international BDS.

La CSN représente quelque 325 000 travailleuses et travailleurs de tous les secteurs d’activité dans près de 2000 syndicats partout au Québec.

Date : 14 avril 2015
Source : CSN
Renseignements: Louis-Serge Houle
Directeur du Service des communications de la CSN
514 792-0795
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‘Workers Initiative’ is a first polish trade union that endorses BDS!

‘Workers Initiative’ is a first polish trade union that endorses BDS!

Polish BDS

Workers Initiative Trade Union in Poland

Kościelna 4 Street

60-538 Poznań

REGON: 634611023

KRS: 0000215247

web: http://www.ozzip.pl

e-mail: ip@ozzip.pl

IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE WE BOYCOTT ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION

Statement by the National Commission of Workers Initiative Trade Union in Poland

In response to the international appeal issued by the Palestinian civil society organizations and trade unions, the National Commission of Workers’ Initiative Trade Union in Poland declares its support for the BDS campaign which aims to restore the national rights of the Palestinian people living under military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as those of the Palestinian refugees, Palestinians living in Israel and the Diaspora.

The BDS campaign, launched in 2005, was inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The current situation in the Occupied Territory largely resembles that which prevailed in South Africa during the apartheid era. The creation of a regime that separates populations and leads to institutional domination of Israels over Palestinians while denying the Palestinians their right to self-determination, the unlawful seizure of land for the purpose of building illegal Israeli settlements, construction of the “apartheid wall” that locks Palestinians into “Bantustans” as in South Africa, ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes, wholesale repression of the civilian population, violent attacks on social protests – all these recall the worst days of apartheid.

The BDS Campaign has 3 main goals:

Ending the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands and the dismantling the separation wall built inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and

Recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and homes in accordance with UN Resolution 194.

During the last Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, “The European Network of Grassroots and Alternative Trade Unions,” in which we participate as an observer, issued a statement supporting BDS and recommending that unions cut ties with the Israeli trade union, the Histadrut, which supports Israeli government policy. The Warsaw Commission of the Workers’ Initative Trade Union also supported a demonstration against the Israeli massacre in Gaza, and in many ways we have shown our solidarity with the struggle against the occupation of Palestine.

We support the BDS campaign because, as members of Workers’ Initiative, we believe it is imperative to stand in international solidarity and support for all communities and peoples who are victims of violence, exploitation and imperialism. We encourage all our members to actively support initiatives of the Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign <http://www.kampania-palestyna.pl>.

Our position stems from opposition to inequality, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Just as we condemn the racist policies of Israel, we oppose any form of discrimination based on nationality or religion that may oppress the citizens of Israel or the Jewish people. Our enemies are the states and capital, regardless of nationality, not individual nations or peoples.

The international labour movement in, against and beyond, the globalized and informatized cage of capitalism and bureaucracy (Interface)

View in PDF format: http://www.interfacejournal.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Issue-6_2-Waterman.pdf

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Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 35 The international labour movement in, against and beyond, the globalized and informatized cage of capitalism and bureaucracy1 Peter Waterman Abstract Six questions and answers address the present crisis of the hegemonic, Europebased and Western-centric international trade union organisations, the impact of globalisation, neo-liberalisation, informalisation and informatisation on labour internationalism, the experiences and possibilities of informal/alternative kinds of labour internationalism, and the significance of labour solidarity with Palestine. Much scepticism is expressed concerning the capacities and possibilities of the traditional trade union internationals. But this is also the case with the union presence within the World Social Forum. Attention is drawn to certain alternative international(ist) labour movement initiatives, mostly marked by networking forms. And the challenges facing a new labour internationalism are considered with respect to the Palestinian case. Keywords: union, Eurocentrism, restructuring, globalisation, internationalism, World Social Forum, shopfloor, informatisation, networking, solidarity 1 This piece began as a response to a number of personal questions posed by Indian feminist and labour specialist Amrita Chhachhi. She had been editing a special issue of the journal of the International Institute of Social Studies, Development and Change on labour internationally (Chhachhi 2014). When I could not meet the D&C requirements, I decided to expand it for this special issue of Interface. Although Amrita can now hardly be considered responsible for it, I do appreciate her original stimulus. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 36 Weber’s Iron Cage There will be an evolution of an iron cage, which will be a technically ordered, rigid, dehumanized society…The iron cage is the one set of rules and laws that we are all subjected and must adhere to. Bureaucracy puts us in an iron cage, which limits individual human freedom and potential instead of a “technological utopia” that should set us free. It is the way of the institution, where we do not have a choice anymore. Once capitalism came about, it was like a machine that you were being pulled into without an alternative option; currently, whether we agree or disagree, if you want to survive you need to have a job and you need to make money2 . Widening the Cracks Within Capitalism In the last twenty or thirty years we find a great many movements that claim something else: it is possible to emancipate human activity from alienated labor by opening up cracks where one is able to do things differently, to do something that seems useful, necessary, and worthwhile to us; an activity that is not subordinated to the logic of profit. […]We are victims and yet we are not. We seek to improve our living standards as workers, and also to go beyond that, to live differently. In one respect we are, in effect, people who have to sell their labor power in order to survive. But in another, each one of us has dreams, behaviors and projects that don’t fit into the capitalist definition of labor. […] The difficulty … lies in envisioning the relation between those two types of movements [wage labour and living differently]. How can that relation avoid reproducing the old sectarianism? How can it be a fruitful relation without denying the fundamental differences between the two perspectives?3 1. To what extent has the international trade union movement responded to the challenges of neo-liberal globalization? The largest union international, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) held its Third Congress, Berlin, May 2014. But the Congress website suggested that the ITUC was still living in or looking back toward the ‘kinder, gentler’ West European capitalism of the mid-20th Century.4 The Congress slogan was ‘Building Workers’ Power’, symbolized by a male worker in a hard hat. Women, the ‘Informal Sector’ and the Indigenous did not appear on the agenda but only in non-plenary sessions. Although a Draft Statement declared that ‘The 20th century model of capitalism has failed, and the ‘Washington Consensus’ must be buried forever’5, its three main themes were: 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_cage 3 http://roarmag.org/2014/09/john-holloway-cracking-capitalism-vs-the-state-option/ 4 http://congress2014.ituc-csi.org/?lang=en 5 http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/html/index_en_web.html Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 37 Union Growth Realizing Rights Sustainable Jobs This might be compared with the World Social Forum’s Another World is Possible! the Spanish campaign for Real Democracy Now! with Occupy’s We Are the 99%! the Latin American indigenous movements’ identification of a Crisis of Civilisation6 and the simple but potent slogan Capitalism is not in Crisis, Capitalism is the Crisis!7 It seems to me that ITUC’s slogan and symbol are hardly going to mobilise or reach out beyond the unionized – if even these.8 The ITUC’s Congress issues suggested, rather, those of what the Dutch unions have long called themselves – ‘an interest-representing organization’. The ITUC is based in Western Europe, is profoundly Eurocentric, and a fundamentally defensive organization. It has long forgotten any history of labour’s ‘street-fighting days’. It clearly does not believe in the strategy attributed to Clausewitz that the best means of defence is attack. And it cannot publicly confront the fact that the unionized part of the world’s wage labour force is only between seven and 15 percent.9 Then there is its fear – indeed suppression – of dialogue. When a unique public challenge was made to it by the South African national union centre,10 it didn’t 6 http://transform-network.net/journal/issue-082011/news/detail/Journal/at-the-heart-ofthe-crisis-of-civilisation-the-issue-of-living-well.html. 7 It’s a movie, it’s free and it’s on Utube here. 8 The ITUC has been producing international surveys on major labour questions. I am no specialist opinion surveys but it does occur to me that the latest one was intended to confirm rather than challenge the actions and opinions of those who commissioned it. There is here, for example, no question about whether those surveyed know anything about the ITUC, including where it is sited, who its leaders might be, the name of their national ITUC affiliate, or what ITUC policies might be. The survey results, moreover, do not even indicate what percentage of interviewees were union members and whether their attitudes might differ from those of nonmembers! An expert analysis of these surveys would be welcome. 9 I have for some years been using the higher figure, but the lower one has been recently confirmed publicly by the General Secretary of the South African COSATU, and in a personal exchange with a veteran international union leader. 10 http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/cosatu-first-substantial-and Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 38 even bother to publicly respond. At its 2014 Congress it provided plenary time to such representatives of ‘the Great and the Good’ as Guy Ryder, the ex-ITUC(!) Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Helen Clark of the United Nations Development Programme, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (!) and Gordon Brown, ex-Prime Minister of the UK (representative of yet another inter-state organization).11 Why does it exhibit such a clientelist orientation? Where here were the representatives of ‘global civil society’, of the dramatic global social movements that are receiving not only public attention globally but very considerable public approval? Such concerns may have appeared in Congress workshops, the latter paying at least some attention to domestic workers, to the ‘informal economy’, to climate change, migrant workers, violence against women, the retired, and of the unions ‘partnering’ (upwards again?) for ‘development’. All these elements, plus the audio-visual, electronic and TV-presentation elements in a ‘paperless congress’, suggest the ITUC has been pushed by the current crisis and pulled by the newest global social movements to move from obeisance to the international financial institutions towards some kind of critique of neo-liberalism (though not of capitalism).12 But why, if this congress represented 176 million workers, in some 161 Countries, and if the ITUC is, as Gordon Brown stated, the largest democratic movement in the world, did it witness such limited resonance in either Germany or internationally, in either the dominant or alternative inter/national labour media? I asked Google to alert me to anything on the ITUC Congress. Over about a week from June 24, I got four alerts, mostly from the ITUC press department itself, with one or two from Deutsche Welle, the international radio/TV service of the German state. Such reports from national union media that I myself found were mostly about their own participation or the speeches of their representatives. So on the basis of the evidence at time of writing, one has to conclude that the ITUC is the largest invisible democratic organization in the world. Compare dominant and/or alternative media response to Amnesty International campaigns or Greenpeace actions! 11 This is a marginal improvement over the Second ITUC Congress in Vancouver, 2010, where plenary invitees included Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. And this whilst a massive anti-globalisation demonstration was occurring (and being violently repressed) elsewhere in Canada! 12 For forceful critique of capitalism at the ITUC Congress, we have to again turn to the South African COSATU. The problem here, however, is that this alternative orientation not only clearly failed to impact on the congress but to itself reach the media. Whilst the COSATU President’s (overly diplomatic?) address to the congress was at least reported on the COSATU website, Its more radical, substantial and detailed positions on congress issues could, at time of writing, only be found on UnionBook, here (note its attachments). For a conceptualization of the position of the ITUC in a schema of union responses to neo-liberalism, consider that of Gall, Wilkinson and Hurd (2011:9-10): 1) Agreement and Support; 2) Qualification and Conditional Support; 3) Social Democratic Opposition; 4) Socialist Resistance. Whilst it would seem reasonable to put the ITUC somewhere between positions 2 and 3, I am not sure whether a spectrum is sufficient to allow for alternatives to capitalism that do not even use the word ‘socialism’. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 39 The ITUC is, however, the major union international, having merged earlier social democratic and catholic ones (here un-capitalized since their original ideological inspirations have long faded) and absorbing not only the main national union centres of the post-communist world but also major militant centres in the global South, such as those of Brazil, South Africa and South Korea.13 But the ITUC, its allied internationals and its members have been severely damaged by a capitalist tsunami that has been not only neo-liberal and globalized but also informatized (though this informatization was hardly recognized by its 2014 congress). Much of what the ITUC and family do is on the North-Rest Axis (the Global South, the ex-Communist East), operates in a North-Rest direction and is conflated with Northern state-funded ‘development cooperation’ (consider here again the ITUC Congress workshop on this topic).14 The ITUC in any case assumes that the Rest is ‘developing’ or ‘emerging’, that what it needs is what the West has got or values, and that this is what the Rest desires. In 2013 I attended two international solidarity events of the Dutch trade unions, both cheerfully marked by this ‘Solidarity of Substitution’ (standing in for the victim) syndrome.15 I do recognise this as an aspect of solidarity, but I certainly reject the reduction of solidarity to something so ethically close to 19th century middleclass Christian charity, and inevitably structured on patron-client lines. (More on this later). Capitalism, red in tooth and claw, within and outside industry, in the media and culture, off and online, has to be understood as revolutionary (if you prefer, counter-revolutionary) in carrying out a one-sided and till-now virtually unlimited war in which the traditional working class has been dispersed, restructured, outsourced, and in which its traditional forms (the Union, the Party, the Cooperative, the Newspaper, the Culture) have been reduced in size, and/or their position within the economy the polity, and in their socio-cultural impact. I have proposed the following parable. 13 This is not to ignore exceptions, such as those of the impressively strike- and protest-prone Chinese and South African working classes. But the former are still outside the ITUC, and the ITUC-affiliated South African COSATU was, at time of writing, under an innovatory left challenge from its major industrial affiliate, the Nation Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Marshall 2014). The possible implications of both phenomena for a post-ITUC labour internationalism have yet to be considered. And we should not forget signs of new union crossborder strike action within Europe (Nowak and Gallas 2014). 14 For what solidarity activities European ITUC affiliates are carrying out on a primarily WestWest axis see the insightful but sobering account of Bieler and Erne (2014). 15 I was a participant at the launch of a Dutch union-funded (actually Dutch state development cooperation funded) film entitled ‘Working Class Heroes’. One of these heroes, present at the launch, and awarded a Dutch Union Rights award, was a prominent and charismatic Indonesian union leader, Said Iqbal. In 2014, Iqbal identified himself – and his union(s) – with the (losing) Presidential candidate – a man with a background in the Suharto military dictatorship! Also present at the launch was the Dutch Labour Party Minister of both development cooperation and foreign trade. Enough said. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 40 The Capitalists and the Unions meet in the traditional World Labour Cup. The Unions arrive, all kitted up, from shirts to boots. But they find, to their horror, that the customary green pitch has been replaced by a shiny white skating rink. They protest loudly but the Capitalists say, ‘This is New Football, it’s faster, it’s more profitable, so get your skates on or go away’. The Unions complain to the Referee but he hoists his shoulders and says, ‘What can I do? If I make it an issue, they’ll simply move the match somewhere else’. The analogy is, of course, incomplete: the capitalists are playing not on an ice rink but in cyberspace. And the unions are still primarily orientated to the industrial/office worker identified with grounded workplaces, local living spaces, national polities. The problem is that the basic form of labour self-articulation, the union, was developed in and against a capitalism that was industrial, national, statebuilding, centralizing (and, of course, patriarchal, racist, imperial and militaristic). Its colonies and dependencies were expected to ‘develop’ along this path. Or, conversely, after 1917, to follow the State-Communist path to such.16 A contradictory and volatile combination of these two paths can be found in China, the new Workshop of the World. The inter/national ‘trade union as we know it’ (let’s call it the TUWKI), is a pyramidal institution, assumes the archetypical proletarian – male, industrial, waged, condemned to life-time (un- or under-) employment, living in a working-class community, surrounded by a working-class culture. The pyramidal organization is a nominally representative-democratic one, just as are, supposedly, worker’s parties, parliaments and the liberal-democratic state. The assumption was that with the growth, spread and deepening of capitalism the worker’s numbers, needs and values would permeate society and the state. This aspiration was given its best – but always partial – representation in the capitalist welfare state (Wahl 2011). With the gradual undermining of Welfare Capitalism (and the dramatic destruction of its Communist would-be equivalent), and with the diverse ‘global justice and solidarity movements’ mostly taking networked and cyberspatial form, the inter/national TUWKI resembles more a monument to the past of emancipatory social movements than a model of a future one.17 16 There were other international labour movement traditions that were crushed between these two millstones, such as the anarcho-syndicalist, the council communist and other democratic socialist ones. I am reminded of these by two recent books. One is that of Dan Gallin (2014), one-time Secretary of the International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF), who belonged to and reminds us of a particular democratic socialist tradition. The other is edited by Immanuel Ness (2014), which deals with such traditions in both their historical and contemporary manifestations – North and South, East and West. Such tendencies are – in so far as they surpass their own ‘labourist’ assumptions – making their own contribution to the re-invention of the union movement. 17 Detailed data and convincing additional reasons for the profound crisis of the international labour movement are provided by Marcel van der Linden (2015). Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 41 Finally, at global level, the inter/national unions – North, South, East and West – are incorporated and self-subordinated to the structure, ideology and programmes of the ILO – condemned by a leading former official, Guy Standing, as ‘An Agency for Globalization’ (Standing 2008). Since the ILO’s foundation – with enthusiastic union support – after the First World War and Russian Revolution, this famously ‘tripartite’ organization has been one in which governments and employers (State and Capital in political-economic terms) have 75 percent of the power, Labour 25 percent. ‘Labour’ here means only trade unions recognized by ‘their’ governments, which also actually pay for their unions’ presence at ILO conferences! This structure reproduces the SocialLiberal theory of capital and labour as competing interests, requiring a neutral state to preside over them. From here also comes the ideal of ‘free tripartite collective bargaining’, a model worshipped, or at least accepted, by most unions, North, South, East and West. The contemporary inter/national trade unions can still mount defensive action and organize effective solidarity campaigns (for their affiliates). With their millions of members they cannot be dismissed. But, given the Iron Cage that surrounds their thinking and action, one has to conclude that within this church there is no salvation – or at least no emancipation. The best one can hope for is that the TUWKI will eventually learn from the newest wave of emancipatory social movements. However the Berlin Congress website reveals but a marginal recognition of even the growing number of women workers (headscarved rather than hardhatted?), of the mass of labourers in the petty-commodity sector, of the wave of precarization threatening labour even in its West European fortress, and that capitalism is destroying the environment on which human existence – and therefore inevitably trade unions and collective bargaining – depends. 2. Given the restructuring of work/labour, informalization, migration etc. is there any real basis for international labour solidarity? Well, first we need to recognize the extent, forms and limits of past labour internationalisms.18 We also have to recognize the different times and places in, with or from which, internationalisms were expressed or experienced. I pluralize ‘internationalisms’ in order to avoid homogenization. Even in their iconic forms and moments they had their specificities and limitations. One of these lies in the very concept of internationalism (or, if you prefer, internationalism). There is ambiguity here even in the Communist Manifesto, which at one point asserts that workers have no country, and at another that they will first have to take power nationally.19 Etymologically, as well as 18 Considerable help here is provided by the work of David Featherstone (2012), reviewed here. Featherstone is all the more important for those working on labour internationalism because of his consideration of multiple kinds of such solidarity, of both historical and contemporary cases, and because of his sensitivity to socio-geographic space and distance. 19https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 42 historically, labour internationalism has been a relationship between workers identified by nationality, interpellated (hailed or addressed) by nationalists and identified with various types of nationalism (e.g. American patriotism, left populism in Latin America, ‘great nation chauvinism’ in Communist – and evidently – post-Communist, Russia and China). With the development of centralized states, imperialism and inter-state or interbloc wars, workers and unions often opted for a state-national or bloc (Western, Eastern, Southern) identity rather than an international class one. We also need to distinguish worker, union, and party/ideological (Labour, Socialist, Communist, Anarchist) internationalisms. Everyone refers to the failure of the call for a general strike against World War One, when, with exceptions, workers identified themselves – at least initially – rather as national subjects/citizens than as an international class. But even the path-breaking 19th to early-20th century international campaign for the eight-hour day, 40-hour week, intimately linked with the establishment of Mayday as International Workers’ Day, was never universalized. In other cases it has been reversed. And I observed and photographed an enormous Mexico City Mayday demonstration, some 15 years ago, in which space was provided for the Zapatistas (who are of course Mexican), but in which there was no single sign of or reference to lo internacional! So the period of a globalized, neo-liberalized, informatized capitalism creates new problems and new challenges. It certainly questions any such simple appeal as that of the Communist Manifesto, assuming that workers are the privileged internationalist subjects; or any assumption that the ITUC, its associated unions and members provide the parameters for, or essence of, labour internationalism. The challenges are beginning to be met, I would argue, by internationalist labour solidarity initiatives at the base, on the periphery and outside the TUWKI. (More under Point 4 below). But we should here note that they customarily take network form, are more active in cyberspace than in offices or conferences, that they are open to dialogue (both internally and externally), that they are often informed by the emancipatory principles and practices of the newest wave of global solidarity and justice movements. Finally, and obviously, they do not accept the Iron Cage of Capitalism and Bureaucracy as the parameters of their thought and action. Consider the slogans I quoted above. Weber’s Iron Cage was, after all, his conceptual one. Traditional national, industrial, colonial, militarist capitalism was actually a mass/mess of contradictions, of which the early labour movement was to various extents conscious of and exploited. The newest global solidarity movements are commonly aware both of the traditional contradictions and of the new ones. As well as of the new terrains of struggle, such as the cyberspatial. And they are customarily aware that the emancipatory struggle is both worldwide (privileging no world area) and ‘intersectional’20 – meaning interpenetrated by and 20 See Wikipedia on intersectionality. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 43 interdependent on other alienated beings (including, in Latin American indigenous thinking, the earth itself). 3. What has been the experience of networking on work/labour issues in the World Social Forum – has it led to any concrete international action? The dominant Brazilian union centre, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUTB) played a major role and was a major presence in the early editions of the WSF, most of which took place in Brazil. It later fell out publicly with the WSF and not for any left (as distinct from institutional) reasons I am aware of. The ITUC has had an increasing presence, and sometimes a giant ‘World of Labour’ tent, has provided its family with a focal point. But this was also, of course, a platform, and I am aware of no significant effort by the ITUC, or the allied Global Unions, to dialogue with ‘other’ labour movements present (of rural labour, of women). There may have been others but the only ‘crossmovement dialogue’ I recall was sponsored by feminists, not by labour. An alternative labour initiative, with the impressively (or was it deliberately?) low-profile name ‘Labour and Globalization’, was sponsored by a pro-WSF Italian union officer and a leading left socialist. It certainly attracted some of ‘labour’s others’, but it acted always as ‘His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’, in the sense of accepting the parameters of the traditional unions, and issuing no alternative programme, charter, or even a discussion document. This effort ran out of steam around 2011, reportedly due to lack or loss of Italian union interest. But we should not consider the unions or other labour people solely responsible here. The WSF, whilst hosting numerous significant social movements, and representing a significant challenge to the global hegemons, has, I think, been heavily marked by 1) the epoch and discourse of ‘global civil society’, 2) been subject to ongización (ngo-ization, for which see Alvarez 1999),21 and 3) been inevitably coloured by the 70-80 percent of participants with a university background. For many of these (as well as the new social movements of the later-20th century) ‘work’ was not, as such, an issue (although jobs increasingly are!), and the labour movement has been considered more a part of the problem than of the solution. We can’t write off the WSF, any more than the traditional trade unions – or for that matter national parliaments. But I am convinced that a global movement for the emancipation of labour will have to start elsewhere. A 2014 Cambridge conference on labour protest worldwide22 reinforced my feeling that if ‘power’ comes from the top and the centre, ‘empowerment’ comes from the base and the periphery: the base of the unions, the periphery of the class, and at least the 21 See here also Wikipedia on NGOization. 22 “‘Bread, Freedom and Social Justice’: Organised Workers and Mass Mobilizations in the Arab World, Europe and Latin America”, http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/ 25028. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 44 semi-periphery of capitalism (Southern Europe, East Asia, Brazil, South Africa). The appropriate slogan here might have to be ‘In the unions, with the unions, without the unions and – where necessary – against the unions’. 4. How effective are alternative cross-border/transnational worker initiatives in countering the power of global capital? There was a 1980s wave, in which I was involved and wrote about, known as the ‘New Labour Internationalism’ (NLI) or ‘Shopfloor Internationalism’, itself a result of the labour and social movement radicalism of the 1970s. This was largely based on inter/national and local labour resource centres (LRCs), mostly acting as support groups, providing information and research services, many experimenting with what I called ‘international labour communication by computer’ (ILCC). Operating at the lowest levels of unionism, creating international linkages between workers on the shopfloor, this was rather independent and highly innovatory. With the rise and rise of neo-liberal globalization, however, the NLI was trapped by its orientation to the workplace and the union form. It failed to recognize that any new labour internationalism had to go beyond the ‘factory gates and the union office’ (Haworth and Ramsay 1984). Some of its leading activists entered the unions they had previously criticised, others faded away, yet others continued their efforts to create autonomous LRCs for a new kind of labour internationalism. The devastating impact of an informatized, neo-liberalized capitalist globalization has, however, given rise to a new wave of both action and reflection. International women worker campaigning may have best survived the neo-liberal tsunami (because of the women activists and feminist ideas). There is a significant new rural labour international, Via Campesina (Braga Vieira 2010, Bringel and Braga Vieira 2014), which organizes labourers as well as small farmers, and which could be considered a ‘networked organization’. There is a well-established network of mostly-female street traders, Streetnet. This links not the relevant NGOs in general but ‘membership-based organizations’ in particular. It adapted its constitution from that of an international trade union. Streetnet is autonomous of inter/national unions whilst often collaborating with such. Note that both Via Campesina (VC) and Streetnet were initiatives of the South or are actually initiated and/or inspired thereby.23 23 Being autonomous from the traditional inter/national unions, and being a membership-based organization, is no necessary guarantee of an autonomous discourse or strategy. Reading the following from WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), cosigned by StreetNet and numerous related bodies, I am reminded of the words of feminist Audre Lourde, that ‘the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’: A majority of workers worldwide work in the informal economy, and most new jobs are informal jobs. It is assumed that informal work is unlikely to completely disappear, and that many informal economic activities will remain informal or semi-formal in the foreseeable future. There is no single, easy, one-step way to formalize informal employment. Rather, it should be understood as a gradual, ongoing process of Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 45 Numerous new labour solidarity initiatives have responded to the dispersion, restructuring and differentiation of working classes or categories, addressing themselves to particular regional or national formations (such as the China solidarity centres in Hong Kong), to the precarized, to the informatized, the petty-production sector, fisherpeople, sex workers, and migrants. One might think of migrant workers as the very embodiment of a globalized labour force and therefore as privileged bearers of a new labour internationalism. But whilst there are numerous networks of such, based on country of origin or country of work, and whilst there are various international NGO or church bodies addressing such workers, they seem to have remained resistant to the global models offered by VC or Streetnet. One simply cannot read off consciousness, organization and action from political-economic or socio-geographic position. Then there are initiatives on the fringe of the formal inter/national union structures but largely oriented toward such. The union inter/nationals have so far proven generally incapable of doing more than using – instrumentalising – the Internet (faster! cheaper! wider-reaching!), as a one-way, one-to-many broadcaster. They have not understood informatization as implying a revolution in work, kinds of workers, the self-empowerment thereof, and for moving toward a constructive, horizontal dialogue and dialectic of equals. This role has been taken on by projects such as the humungous information/solidarity project, LabourStart/UnionBook, by Union Solidarity International (USI)24 and the Global Labour Institute (GLI). These also happen to be heavily, if not solely, UK based. So is one ‘industry specific one’, Teacher Solidarity.25 But the China Labour Bulletin, Hong Kong, is one of several such sophisticated operations there. Then in Australia we can find a Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) in Perth, and an Australia-Asia Worker Links (AAWL) in Victoria. And one should not forget the open and internationalist socialist sites such as ‘Links International Journal of Socialist incrementally incorporating informal workers and economic units into the formal economy through strengthening them and extending their rights, protection and benefits. (WIEGO 2014) The whole ambitious and detailed document surely invites de- and re-construction. To start with, those in the informal economy are not a ‘majority’ – 50% plus? – but more like 85% – surely ‘an overwhelming majority’? To continue, this is not ‘the informal economy’ (ILO socialliberal discourse): it is the ‘petty-capitalist’, ‘petty-entrepreneurial’ or ‘real economy’ (according to various political-economic discourses). Finally, the declaration represents, surely, a backward-looking utopianism: during an on-going global capitalist economic crisis, and a war on labour in the capitalist ‘formal economy’, the aim of WIEGO and friends is that of getting (back) into it. And this with the assistance of the ILO, denounced by Guy Standing (2008) in terms already quoted. 24 See here. This page introduces us to an ‘Organising Network’, whilst, dramatically, reminding us that social networking is not neutral, that every technology bears an ideology, and arguing that it is introducing a new kind of international social networking site for unions. Bearing in mind my early concept of ‘International Labour Communication by Computer’, I am wondering whether we are now moving to a new stage – ILCC 2.0. 25 ‘Teacher Solidarity’. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 46 Renewal’ in Australia, ‘Debate’ in South Africa, ‘The Bullet’ in Canada, or ‘LeftEast’ (wherever, apart from Cyberia, it might be sited).26 Other projects increasingly come even to my inevitably limited attention. One is ‘Forum Worlds of Labour – China and Germany’, which is intended to create ‘personal encounter and debate’ at the shopfloor level. This could be understand as a revival of the shopfloor internationalism of the 1980s, linking as it does both German and China/Hongkong publications and networks largely of that era.27 In Austria there is a new body for the ‘Active Unemployed’, which is proposing an international network of such.28 Then I note a left metalworkers’ union site in Brazil that has an international solidarity page in English, no less!29 And also expressing solidarity in the South-North direction. Whilst many of the labour-specific sites above are heavily oriented toward and sometimes dependent on inter/national union support – moral or material – their position on the union periphery and their cyberspace awareness and activity means they can obviously do things that the traditionally earth-bound unions cannot. And they show, to varying degrees, an awareness of or sensitivity toward the increasingly networked nature of the latest global social movements. This was, I think, demonstrated by a couple of events that took advantage of the ITUC Congress in Berlin. One was of the Global Labour University which, despite its German social-democratic base and intimate links with the ILO, nonetheless addresses the 21st century world.30 A step beyond a union-fixation was taken by a NetworkedLabour conference, Amsterdam, 2013. It brought together 20-30 autonomous left specialists/activists on the globalization/informatization of work, of products, of workers, and then on the possibilities of emancipatory networking amongst such. One year later, however, it was yet to publish a promised report. My feeling is that it lacked significant reference to the history of ILCC, and the presence of those with practical contemporary experience of such. It is nonetheless an initiative which bears following.31 It seems to me to be being challenged (in direct relevance to workers and the labour movement) by a New York event, DigitalLabour.32 26 LeftEast, http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/. This is its e-dress. It seems not to have an earthbound ad-dress. 27 See here, so far only in German. 28 aktive-arbeitslose. 29 http://www.sindmetalsjc.org.br/sindicato/internacional/idioma/english/. 30 Which is not to exaggerate its radicality, given its focus on labour policies rather than labour politics (in the sense of collective labour self-empowerment). See here its pre-event paper outlines, which at least permit those not present to make their own sense of sometimes conflicting orientations. 31 See here, however, the NetworkedLabour-related work of Senalp and Senalp (forthcoming) and Senalp (2014a, b). And note the hope to hold a following Networked Labour Seminar, May 2015. 32 http://digitallabor.org/ Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 47 As for the general impact of such efforts? I think we have to recognize this remains modest. It also remains to be critically researched. For example the site of the CLB in Hongkong declares, In addition to promoting workers’ initiatives and our own project work in China, CLB informs workers in China of important developments in the international trade movement. We select stories of worker solidarity and courage that will inspire China’s workers and show them what real trade unions do. Our English-language website conversely gives international readers a comprehensive introduction to and analysis of the workers’ movement in China. [My emphasis.] This seems to reproduce the asymmetrical and Westocentric union internationalism previously criticised. Here the paradise to be gained is one the West is losing! Fortunately, other Hong Kong-based sites go beyond this. I have here in mind, for example, the long-established Asia Monitor Resource Centre33 but there are others. Taking the longest-established and largest-scale cyberspace operation, LabourStart, this provides a remarkable multilingual source of news, and a space in which surfers can declare solidarity with numerous – with endless – online campaigns. Here the dangers arise of ritualization and information overload. Of course, those who use LabourStart can themselves select the countries or respond to issues that most concern them. But insofar as solidarity (overwhelmingly West-Rest) requires of surfers only a click, it raises the danger of ‘clicktivism’. And then the LabourStart-linked UnionBook, whilst a many-tomany site (with the rather restrained presence of LabourStart’s founder-owner, and whilst one I have long used as my own blogsite), comes over so far as a notice-board – or as a sandbox where we surfers can play, with minimal dialogue and with no visible cumulative effect or learning process.34 LabourStart ran one of its in-place conferences immediately following the ITUC Congress in Berlin. Whilst an evaluation of the event (co-authored by LabourStart’s initiator/owner) was predictably uncritical35 another report was rather more informative.36 The GLI is an interesting case in so far as it is union supported, has demonstrated some autonomy from the TUWKI complex, runs an annual international school, has a slowly increasing number of affiliates (including 33 http://www.amrc.org.hk/ 34 This statement has to be qualified following Israel’s third war on Gaza, July-August 2014, when UBook creator, Eric Lee, suspended me without warning for an ‘offensive’ and ‘libelous’ posting, then destroyed the evidence thereof and, finally, (after I had circulated widely an-online protest) de-suspended me! Clearly this raises more issues than those between two Jews, one who would consider himself Zionist Internationalist, the other a Radical-Democratic one. See further the reaction from UBook user, Orsan Senalp and a wrap-up on UBook by myself. 35 http://labournewsnetwork.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/global-solidarity-on-display-inberlin-as-trade-unionists-meet-at-labourstart-conference/ 36 http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2014/05/30/labourstart-successful-conference-berlin. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 48 Russia, but not yet the Global South). At one of its annual summer schools, 2013, GLI founder, Dan Gallin, produced a blistering critique of international unionism, all the more telling in that it came from the former General Secretary of one of the Global Union Federations. He also proposed a re-politicising of the international union movement.37 The GLI has also published, with or for the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF), a path-breaking multilingual handbook on Organizing Precarious Transport Workers.38 Striking about this attractive brochure is: its awareness of the multiple forms of precarity; that precarity is a universal worker problem; that different kinds of precarious workers have different needs and demands; that they may (or may not) have effective non-union forms of self-organization; and, finally, that we cannot assume unions confronted by precarization are ‘fit for purpose’. It urges a positive but critical attitude to NGOs working with the precarious. And it warns against the dangers of external (foreign ‘development cooperation’?) funding. A more unusual case would be the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), which managed to finally get an ILO Convention (No.189) on ‘Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ in 2011. The campaign for this brought together unions of and NGOs for domestic workers from various world regions, the International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF), various national union centres, a Manchester-based research-action centre (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, or WIEGO), and others. Also of interest is that this campaign made use of the ‘Decent Work’ slogan of the ILOITUC – a campaign of which I have been critical, not only because of its origin in an interstate organization rather than the labour movement, but because of its reiteration of traditional liberal capitalist notions about, well, what work and decency are (it would allow production of junk food, nuclear weapons and ecologically-destructive extractive industries, as long as working conditions and union rights were ‘decent’).39 These can only be static shots of how a new kind of labour internationalism is developing, and they are obviously snapshots only from my camera – or ‘subject position’ as feminists might say. If I have seen and am here recognizing these projects, then there must be dozens of other such occurring in other places, other spaces, in other languages, in other alphabets. 37 One version of this can be found here. 38 http://global-labour.net/2014/01/itf-launches-new-guide-organising-precarious-transportworkers/ 39 For a movement and a theoretical critique or and alternative to ‘Decent Work’, see Dinerstein 2014. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 49 5. You have argued for moving beyond trade union internationalism, which remains trapped in the ‘iron cage’, and see new forms of labour self-articulation going beyond ‘the capitalist canon’, leading to the emergence of a new labour movement internationalism. I hope I have given some answers to this question above. So I will here concentrate on the literature that goes beyond the Cage and the Canon.40 Some of this literature is reviewed in pieces I have written on the ‘new global labour studies’. There was a certain shrinkage of international labour studies in the 1990s, possibly when many leftists lost faith in the proletariat as a socialist vanguard and the incrementalist left in it as a modernizing one! Recently there has been an equally considerable revival of such studies. And not only by these 20th century tendencies. I have indeed been taking issue with such new ‘global labour studies’ as I consider to be trapped, like the inter/national trade unions, within the Cage. I don’t want to repeat the arguments in two recent review articles (Waterman 2012, 2013a).41 Nor do I want to be too picky about what is or is not emancipatory (in the sense of seeking the surpassing of the alienation of labour by and for capital/state/empire/patriarchy/war). But we do seem to be witnessing a new wave of critical and creative monographs, conferences and compilations that are undermining (or firing at?) the Canon.42 Here I would like to note a substantial new textbook entitled, simply enough, Globalization and Work (Williams et. al. 2013). Here are some of its chapter titles: Consumption, Work and Identity; Multinationals; International Labour Standards; Globalization, Labour and Social Movements; Management in Global Factories; Migrant Labour; Transnational Mobility; Gender and Intersectional Inequalities; Labour Conflict. In so far as this work ends up suggesting a Australinavian utopia (pp. 247-8), I consider that it here returns 40 It is late, but hopefully not too late. to here introduce the ‘Capitalist Canon’ and the alternatives to such. Although earlier proposed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, here is an accessible discussion of such (Serrano and Xhafa 2011). 41 The second of these (Waterman 2013a) provides a base from which much of the argument of this paper is drawn. 42 Which is not to say that these compilations universally surpass the capitalist – or for that matter vulgar Marxist – canon. They each require or even invite critical review. In particular, I think, they need to be tested on their ICT-Awareness – the extent to which they recognize this latest capitalist technological revolution, creating new kinds of work, of workers, of forms of labour self-articulation and of ‘disputed terrain’. See Chhachhi 2014, the already-mentioned Ness (2014), Clua-Losada and Horn (2014), WorkingUSA (2014) and Gall, Wilkinson and Hurd (2011), Panitch and Albo (2015). As for 2014 conferences, consider these: Forms of Labour in Europe and China, the Case of Foxconn, Organised Workers and Mass Mobilizations in the Arab World, Europe and Latin America, Social Movements In Global Perspectives: Past – Present – Future as well as the site of RC44, the labour movements group within the International Sociological Association. Critical accounts of all of these would be welcome. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 50 itself to the Golden Age of the Iron Cage. So I guess it is more the book’s varied subject matters – and its extensive discussion of the relevant literature – that it seems to me a provocation to debate, discussion and dialogue on labour (and the newest global social movements!) in the New World Capitalist Disorder.43 A dramatic piece coming out of the prolonged wave of social protest in Greece calls for ‘the regeneration of a social-labour movement from the base for emancipation’.44 This seems to echo a project I launched that has otherwise had little impact. That was – maybe still is? – the Global Labour Charter Project I initially launched around 2005. It was, on the one hand, provoked by the socialliberal ‘Decent Work’ campaign of the ILO-ITUC and, on the other hand, encouraged by emancipatory declarations coming out of the newest global social movement and thinking.45 And, as I was completing this piece, I received this Italian call for a Europe-wide ‘social strike’ to take place November 14, 2014.46 It is an attempt to combine all social discontents and struggles – including those concerning education and gender: It is clear to all…that Europe is the minimum space of confrontation, the transnational level is decisive for conflicts that want to be incisive. And it is clear that without the creation of a space of permanent relationship and innovation between struggles and movements, breaking the impasse and subverting the present is unimaginable. A social strike, a strike that should be general and generalized, precarious and metropolitan, wants to be a first step, undoubtedly partial but fundamental, of this experiment. A way to begin to reverse this toxic narrative that replaces merit with equality, fierce competition with common happiness. 43 Another global labour study came to my attention as I was completing this piece. This is Atzeni (2014). It is a compilation of some brilliant papers, many original and thoughtprovoking. But it is, indeed, concentrated on ‘contemporary themes and theoretical issues’. So it does not take us much further in the direction of strategy. Nor does it address the question of internationalism. It is accessible here. The WorkingUSA (2014) compilation, introduced by Kim Scipes, although primarily focused on the Northincludes a number of novel and sometimes fascinating case studies. For yet another journal special issue on ‘Globalization and International Labor Solidarity’ (Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 2014) see here. And yet another relevant contribution, the piece by North American labour movement and socialist veteran, Sam Gindin (2014), with its list of things to know about organising against capitalism in the USA. Whilst his critique of traditional unionist thinking and most of his alternative understandings are well taken, however, his prioritization of national over – or at least before – international solidarity means a blind eye to the manner in which these are inevitably interdependent, more than ever in a world he recognizes as globalized, neoliberalised and financialised. Perhaps if he recognized informatization as contemporary capitalism’s fourth leg, he would also see that the beast has many bellies and that this requires any emancipatory labour strategy to be simultaneously international and national – not to speak of local and regional. 44 See here. 45 See here. 46 See here. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 51 I commented on this to the effect that whilst I thought a couple of months too short for this to be widely effective, it carried dramatically further the idea of ‘social movement unionism’ I launched in the later 1980s. 6. What does the 2014 Israel-Gaza war reveal about labour internationalism within or beyond your ‘iron cage’ and ‘capitalist canon’? This is an on-going and extremely fraught issue, so what I have to say are only some first thoughts. I do, however, think that it is the kind of issue for international labour solidarity that has been historically represented by World Wars One and Two, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, AntiColonialism, Vietnam, the Cold War (NATO and West/East nuclear ‘exterminism’), Czechoslovakia 1968, Chile 1973, Poland’s Solidarnosc and Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Note that many of these went beyond the limits of any ‘trade unions as such’ discourse. Now, I have identified with Palestine solidarity and/or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, particularly in so far as this has involved unions and the wider labour movement. More so since the 2014 Israeli outrage in Gaza that scandalized even liberal Zionists abroad and former IDF intelligence unit soldiers in Israel.47 Given the Balkanisation/Ghettoization of Palestine, I have come to consider any UN-type ‘two-state’ solution as dead in the water (or should one here say ‘desert’ – including those caused by long-standing and continuing Israeli destruction of Palestine’s ecology?). If we are not to continue towards Israel’s ‘Final Solution of the Arab Problem’, then I see a one-state solution as the only democratic one. It may be distant (so is a post-capitalist world!) yet it provides a horizon toward which we must move. At the same time I have been having difficulty in seeing the different reactions to the Israel/Palestine issue in the international labour movement in other than 20th Century terms. Whilst not identical, the issue itself has clear echoes of that against apartheid South Africa (not to speak of earlier cases of imperial racism, humiliation, militarism, expansionism, repression and massacre). There are even clearer echoes of the South African case in the international labour movement. The Eurocentric trade union internationals of that era (and various of their equally Eurocentric affiliates) were complicit with the white racist unions of South Africa, until they were forced by the rising Anti-Apartheid Movement, national and international, to boycott the latter and recognize the Black South African trade unions (Webster 1984, Southall 1995). And the Palestinian, civil society- and union-endorsed, BDS movement is at least 47 This, as well as other reactions can be found amongst multiple postings on Union Book blog here. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 52 implicitly inspired by the successful South African campaign.48 I identify various union responses to the latest invasion of Gaza, briefly: The Labour Zionist. Though not confined to one person, this position is exemplified by the earlier-mentioned Eric Lee (Footnote 29), whose position reminds me of that of Western Communists as Stalinist Russia stagnated and declined. He has been busy with triumphalist celebration of Israel’s wars, as well as the successes of the Zionist Histadrut within the TUWKIs in general and the ITUC in particular. He has, however, increasingly shifted, if uncertainly, to sobering reflections on the success of the BDS/Palestine-solidarity movement, though this is not to the point of recognizing any Israeli responsibility. Two proIsraeli sites he has either created or been connected with, TULIP (Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine) and TUFI (Trade Union Friends of Israel) appear to have run out of steam late 2013. Eric (with whom I fruitfully dialogued on ILCC in the 1990s) has also increasingly withdrawn his pro-Israeli/Histadrut news, views and personal attachments from LabourStart and UnionBook, concentrating them on his own blogsite (from which he has also removed his LabourStart/UnionBook affiliations). Unlike many Western Communists (myself amongst them after the Soviet invasion of Communist Czechoslovakia) he has not yet had his ‘1968 Moment’ – that of abandoning a fundamentalist state-nationalism and an inevitably ‘particularistic internationalism’, in favour of the dialogical/dialectical internationalism that his remarkable and pioneering online creations make possible.49 The ITUC/ETC. By this formulation I mean the ITUC itself, the Global Unions (GUs) intimately associated with it, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, the European Trade Union Confederation and similar bodies for other regions,50 and such national trade union affiliates as identify themselves uncritically with the ITUC, as well as such NGOs as might have been sponsored by, or that consider themselves allies of, the ITUC. The ITUC declared that it was ‘horrified by the appalling death toll of civilians in Gaza’, and called for ceasefire, a return to the 1967 borders, negotiations and a two-state solution. This identifies it closely with the UN position, to which the ITUC refers and defers. It, somewhat pathetically, organized an international campaign for union peace postcards to be sent to the UN! The International 48 There is an important point of distinction between the labour campaign for BDS in South Africa and Palestine. This is precisely the existence of a mass Black working class and autonomous democratic trade unions in the former, the limited size of an Arab working class in Israel, and the party-political domination of the undemocratic Palestinian unions. This implies a greater challenge to the international labour BDS campaign, particularly the need to surpass a narrow labourism. (More on this below). 49 Though he continues, after first suspending my account and then restoring it – to tolerate my own anti-Zionist and pro-BDS postings on Union Book. 50 An exception must be made for its regional organization for the Americas, CSA/TUCA, which came out with a clear condemnation of Israel, particularly the ‘brutal escalation’ of its assault. As with previous such deviations from the Brussels line, however, this is unlikely to be reproduced – far less responded to – by the Kremlin/Vatican of TUWKIism. Indeed, I could only find it on the CSA site, in Spanish, not on the TUCA site, in English! Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 53 Transportworkers Federation, which condemned the Israeli bombings of Gaza has at least, however, created a humanitarian fund for Gaza. The ITUC has the Histadrut as a member and, at its 2012 Congress actually elected its leader, Ofer Eini, to a leading position within the organisation. Such Histadrut affiliations probably exist for all or most of the GUs.51 The ITUC/ETC thus appears to be in the position the old ICFTU occupied on South Africa before the South African and international Anti-Apartheid Movement forced it to abandon the racist unions and identify with the Black/anti-racist ones. However, there are and may be growing differences within this camp. The Irish TUC, which is an ITUC affiliate, identified itself with the BDS movement already in 2007.52 And a 2014 congress of the British TUC, whilst not coming out explicitly for BDS, nonetheless took a stand distinctly more radical than that of the ITUC (whose position it nonetheless endorses). The TUC also identified itself with Amnesty and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK.53 Some of the international labour support bodies, independent from but oriented toward what I have called TUWKI, came out for support to Palestine and/or BDS. At least one preserved ‘radio silence’ (actually internet silence), considering the matter a ‘political’ or ‘inter-state’ issue rather than a ‘labour’ or ‘social’ one. Such a position reproduces the hegemonic Western liberal discourse (the infamous Canon) that compartmentalizes the social terrain and does not recognize that an anti-political position is also a political position, at least if we take ‘the political’ to cover all exercises of power and expressions of powerlessness. Unsurprisingly, this silence on Israel/Palestine is also reproduced by that US state-funded shill, the Solidarity Centre of the American AFL-CIO.54 Palestine Solidarity and/or BDS campaigns. This campaign, launched from Palestine and endorsed by all Palestinian trade unions and the South African COSATU, is, as already suggested, either explicitly or implicitly inspired by the historical Anti-Apartheid Movement. As Israeli outrages have continued, this campaign has had increasing success. It has a considerable variety of expressions, from the passing of resolutions by national trade union centres and individual unions, to demonstrations and then actual labour boycott actions, such as those of South African dockers and those on the West Coast of the 51 This account is impressionistic, given that neither Wikipedia, the ITUC nor Histadrut websites yield the complete information necessary. Some was gleaned from a booklet on the Global Labour Movement (a misnomer given that it is limited to the ITUC, GUs and some ITUC friendly/acceptable NGOs), published 2013 by LabourStart. A systematic and critical research effort is necessary also here. 52 See here 53 This all causing considerable misgivings to Labour Zionist, Eric Lee. 54 July 2014, it reported that Palestinian unions were ‘under fire’, without reference to what kind of fire this was and where it was coming from, and giving this item no more importance than a half dozen other more routine collective bargaining matters. Oh, and a shill, in the US, is a person or body who/which publicly supports or publicizes someone or some body without revealing his identification with or dependence on the latter. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 54 US/Canada.55 I won’t give this position more attention here because it finds explicit and detailed expression in its own media (see Footnote 45). However a question still needs to be raised about the failure or limitations, so far, of any campaign to get the ITUC/ETC to boycott Histadrut. I suspect that, with the exception of COSATU, those to the left of the ITUC confine any criticisms they might have of it to the corridors of powerlessness, and this for diplomatic reasons somewhat out of consonance with even Gorbachov’s late-20th century notion/aspiration of perestroika and glasnost (restructuring and transparency). Back to the Iron Cage. I said at the beginning of this section that the Palestine labour solidarity campaign seemed to me a typically 20th century one, meaning that it all falls within the solidarity repertoires of the epoch of a nationalindustrial-colonial capitalism. Consider the parallel between the Right/Left, Nationalist/Internationalist typology, presented above, and that I critiqued in Footnote 10. The problem is revealed if we look at the position of the (Neolithic) Communist World Federation of Trade Unions, which has declared total solidarity with the Palestinian unions, attacked Israel and world imperialism, and condemned the ITUC position on the conflict as ‘a hideous joke’.56 What WFTU here offers is in terms of Virtue v. Vice – a Manichean Opposition. Alternatively we could place this position on a Spectrum, leading from the Labour-Zionist one to that of ‘Class and Mass’, of ‘Anti-Imperialism’, and ‘Revolution’. Indeed, various autonomous leftist solidarity bodies have been reproducing, uncritically, this knee-jerk WFTU reaction. In so far, however, as we now recognize ‘revolution’ as a problem rather than a solution (look at what happened to the Chinese one!), do we not also need to see solidarity with Palestinian workers and people in dialectical rather than mechanical (yes/no, good/bad, occupation/liberation) terms? I have earlier proposed that we do need to see ‘international solidarity’ in more complex ways. I have also suggested we need to consider its axes, its directions, its external reach and local depth. I use the acronym ISCRAR: Identity, Substitution, Complementarity, Reciprocity, Affinity and Restitution.57 None of these alone ‘represents’ solidarity; each of them alone can contradict both itself and a holistic notion of solidarity. Solidarity with Palestine falls largely within the category of a Substitution Solidarity – standing in for a suffering or needful community. But if this is understood as a sufficient understanding of solidarity, it may be, or can easily become a patron-client relation. And in so far as it is unidirectional, in this case from the West to the Rest, it can imply, like trade union ‘development cooperation’, the export or imposition of Our understanding and values on the Other. If, alternatively, a Substitution Solidarity is motivated by feelings of guilt or obligation, it can lead to ‘selfsubordination to the victim’. This was a syndrome common to the ‘FirstWorld/Third-World’ solidarity movements of the last century. 55 See here. 56 See here 57 Waterman (1998, 2010), Vos (1976). Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 55 It seems to me that attempts to understand and surpass these limitations, in the case of solidarity with Palestine (if not of labour solidarity with Palestine) are beginning to be made. David Landy (2014/Forthcoming) has Hamas and other problematic/conflicting Palestinian forces in mind when he argues that a notion of solidarity which seeks to avoid its necessary tensions, leads to a suppression of our political imaginations and activities, rather than to their expansion. This may be the greatest casualty of the doctrine of noninvolvement [in the internal relations of the Palestinian movements] – that we may find that in undertaking such blinkered political work we are not engaged in action that is meaningful either for Palestinians, ourselves or our mutual world. In a theoretical consideration of various identities and differences in relation to global [?] social transformation, which takes on both Marxism and feminism, Sriram Anath (this issue) says that the BDS call provides an interesting platform to understand that it is in the lived politics of solidarity-based struggle that one is able to determine where greater attention to difference is needed, where commonality of interests lies, and how to engage with the contradictions arising from different forms of solidarity for a transformative political movement…[I]t would be interesting to see how the variegated coalitions/alliances and movements that have spawned from the BDS call engage with these numerous issues surrounding political solidarity. Such reflections surely take us outside the Cage and beyond the Canon. There are implications here for those concerned with a project of global social transformation, also in relation to labour and what I call the new global solidarity. This is clearly not the rose garden that we (were) promised in the last century. These roses have prickles. We need to work in this garden, together with our Others, armed less with industrial era steam shovels than with Gramsci’s ‘pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will’. Our major challenge in creating a new kind of labour internationalism is surely that of doing what Holloway, in my initial quote, says of holding together international struggles within the wage-labour relationship with those that seek to surpass it. And doing this without suppressing the necessity of moving from the first to the second. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 56 References and resources Alvarez, Sonia. 1999. ‘Advocating Feminism: The Latin American Feminist NGO “Boom”’, in International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 1. No. 2. Atzeni, Maurizio. 2014. ‘Workers and Labour in a Globalised Capitalism: Contemporary Themes and Theoretical Issues’. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/workers-and-labour-in-a-globalisedcapitalism-maurizio-atzeni/?K=9780230303171. Bieler, Andreas and Roland Erne. 2014. ‘Transnational solidarity? The European Working Class in the Eurozone Crisis’ in Leo Panitch and Greg Albo (eds). ‘Transforming Classes’, Socialist Register 2015. Braga Vieira, Flávia. 2010. Dos proletários unidos à globalizăçao da esperança: Um estudo sobre internacionalismos e a Via Campesina. (From Proletarians United to the Globalisation of Hope: A Study of Internationalisms and of Via Campesina). Rio de Janeiro: Alameda. Bringel, Breno and Flávia Braga Vieira. 2014. ‘Educational Processes, Transnational Exchanges and the Reconfiguration of Internationalism in Brazil’s MST and La Via Campesina’. (Unpublished draft). Chhachhi, Amrita (ed). 2014. ‘Forum Debate 2014: Revisiting the Labour Question’, Development and Change. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ dech.2014.45.issue-5/issuetoc. Clua-Losada, Monica and Laura Horn (eds). 2014. ‘Analysing Labour and the Crisis: Challenges, Responses and New Avenues’, Global Labour Journal, Vol. 5, No. 2. Dinerstein, Ana. 2014. ‘The Dream of Dignified Work: On Good and Bad Utopias’ in Development and Change, Vol. 45, No. 5, pp. 1037-58. Featherstone, David. 2012. Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism. London: Zed. Gall, Gregor, Adrian Wilkinson and Richard Hurd (eds). 2011. The International Handbook of Labour Unions: Responses to Neo-Liberalism. London: Elgar. Fernandes, Sabrina. 2014. ‘Brazil on Strike: Class Struggle in the Wake of the World Cup’. The Bullet. http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/997.php#continue. Gall, Gregor, Adrian Wilkinson and Richard Hurd (eds). 2011. The International Handbook of Labour Unions: Responses to Neo-Liberalism. London: Elgar. Gallin, Dan. 2014. Solidarity: Selected Essays. Labour Start. http://www.labourstart.org/solidarity/. Gindin, Sam. 2014. ‘Unmaking Global Capitalism’, https://www.jacobinmag. com/2014/06/unmaking-global-capitalism/. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 57 Marshall, Judith. 2014. ‘Building a United Front Against Neoliberalism: South African Metalworkers Change Course’. http://www.socialistproject. ca/bullet/944.php. Haworth, Nigel and Harvie Ramsay. 1984. ‘Grasping the Nettle: Problems with the Theory of International Trade Union Solidarity’, in Waterman, Peter (ed), For a New Labour Internationalism. The Hague: ILERI Foundation. Pp.60-87. Ness, Immanuel (ed). 2014. New Forms of Workers Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class Struggle Unionism. Oakland: MR Press. https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=628. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies. 2014. ‘Globalization and International Labor Solidarity’ Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies. Vol. 4, No. 1. Nowak, Jörg and Alexander Gallas. 2014. ‘Mass Strikes Against Austerity in Western Europe – A Strategic Assessment’, Global Labour Journal, Vol. 5, No. 3. Panitch, Leo and Greg Albo (eds). 2015. ‘Transforming Classes’, Socialist Register 2015. Senalp, Orsan. 2014. Making of the Global Working Class. Senalp, Orsan and M.G. Senalp (Forthcoming) ‘Transnational Networks of Radical Labour Research’. In Kees van der Pijl (ed), The International Political Economy of Production. London: Edward Elgar. Serrano, Melissa and Edlira Xhafa. 2011. ‘The Quest for Alternatives Beyond (Neoliberal) Capitalism’. Global Labour University Working Paper 14. Geneva: International Labour Organisation. Southall, Roger. 1995. Imperialism or Solidarity? International Labour and South African Trade Unions. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press. Standing, Guy. 2008. ‘The ILO: An Agency for Globalisation?’, Development and Change, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 355-84. Vos, Henk. 1976. Solidariteit: Elementen, Complicaties, Perspectieven. Baarn: Ambo. Wahl, Asbjorn. 2011. The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State. London: Pluto. Waterman, Peter. 1998. Globalisation, Social Movements and the New Internationalisms. London: Mansell. Or: 2010. London: Bloomsbury. E-book. Waterman, Peter. 2009. ‘Needed: A Global Labour Charter Movement’, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements. Vol1, No.2, 255-262. Waterman, Peter. 2012. ‘An Emancipatory Global Labour Studies is Necessary!’, Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements. Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 317 -368. Waterman, Peter. 2013a. ‘International Union Power within the Rusting Cage of Capitalism and Bureaucracy: A Review Article’. Draft. Interface: a journal for and about social movements Interview Volume 6 (2): 35 – 58 (November 2014) Waterman, In, Against and Beyond 58 http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/international-trade-unionismwithin-the-trap-of-capitalism-a Waterman, Peter. 2013b. ‘Trade Unions at World Social Forum, Tunis, Call for a Global Union Forum (Federation of Workers of Quebec – FTQ)’. UnionBook, April 21. http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blogs/trade-unions-at-worldsocial-forum-tunis-call-for-a-global-union. Webster, Eddie. 1984. ‘The International Metalworkers Federation in South Africa (1974-80)’, in Peter Waterman (ed), For a New Labour Internationalism. ILERI: The Hague. Pp. 213-30. WIEGO. 2014. WIEGO Network Platform: Transitioning from the Informal to the Formal Economy in the Interests of Workers in the Informal Economy. Manchester: WIEGO. Williams, Steve et. al. 2013. Globalisation and Work. Cambridge: Polity. WorkingUSA. 2014. ‘Special Theme: Global Labour Solidarity’, WorkingUSA, June 2014, Vol. 17, No. 2. About the author Peter Waterman (London, 1936) worked twice for international Communist organisations before becoming an academic. He is now a pensioned (but unretiring) activist/writer on international unions and labour internationalism, global social emancipation movements, and culture/communications – particularly cyberspatial – in relation to such. He has just published his autobio (available online, CopyLeft and free), From Cold War Communism to the Global Emancipatory Movement: Itinerary of an Internationalist. He can be reached at peterwaterman1936 AT gmail.com.

Barcelona Dockworkers Salute ILWU Local 10 and 34

Letter from Barcelona to ILWU

Carrer del Mar, 97 – 08003 – Barcelona -Tel. 93 221 58 23 – Fax 93 221 65 88\ zonacatalana@coordinadora.org

Barcelona, September 5, 2014

ILWU International Longshoremen Workers Union

Locals 1 0 and 34

Dear brothers and sisters,

On behalf of the dockworkers of Barcelona, Spain, we want to congratulate you on the actions of the past summer, in support of the Palestinian struggle for survival. With your solidarity you did your bit to stop the slaughter that the Israeli government was perpetrating on the civilian population of Gaza.

As workers we are aware that we must build the tools that allow us to make this world a better place to live, not only defending our rights, but also those denouncing unfair wars whose main victims are civilians. Such actions are those that give real meaning to our unions.

Comrades, receive our fraternal greetings. Oakland longshore solidarity action should be an inspiration for dockworkers around the world.

Yours in solidarity,

Jordi Aragunde Miguens Delegate from Barcelona and member of the International Area of La Coordinadora, Spain.