15 August 2008

Unions unite

The meeting this week of United Steelworkers from locals across Canada and Brazil in Thompson, Manitoba, illustrates what workers must do if they are to have a voice in the global marketplace.

The unions, representing workers employed by the Brazilian-owned Vale Inco, the world's second largest mining company, gathered to support the Thompson local in negotiations with the company. The support stems from an accord signed by Vale unions around the world in Sudbury in 2007. It requires the unions to "work together cooperatively and strategically as global partners, to build the bargaining power of workers." That commitment is being fulfilled this week. “Brazilian Vale workers stand in solidarity with Steelworkers in Thompson,” said Eduardo Pinto, leader of the Sindicato dos Ferroviarios do Maranhoa-MA, CNTT.

Unions represent democracy in the workplace, and if we are to have a fully democratic society, democracy in the workplace is essential. And that applies, of course, to the global society. When workers in China and elsewhere are free to associate with their brothers and sisters in the rest of the world, globalization will start to mean something more than cheap labour for corporations.

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