The Super Union Forever!

January 4, 2007

The first item covered by the Hidden Paw will be a hopeful one. The Observer reports that trade unions in America, Germany and the UK will be forming what the paper’s industrial editor, Oliver Morgan, calls a “super union” – a huge organisation composed of around 6 million industrial workers.

The union will deal with heavy industry and manufacturing in an effort to offset the power of multinational corporations. As Derek Simpson, the head of Amicus in the UK put it:

‘Our aim is to create a powerful single union that can transcend borders to challenge the global forces of capital. I envisage a functioning, if loosely federal, multinational organisation within the next decade.’

Amicus will be merging with the Transport & General Workers Union bringing their numbers above 2 million – a figure comparable with that of IG Metal in Germany. The United Steel Workers and the International Association of Machinists, from the U.S. will complete the 6 million strong umbrella union, which is long overdue.

My concern is that this will remain an incomplete development in the internationalisation of the labour movement. In order to create an effective opposition to the globalization of capital, it seems to me that having strong links between workers in developed countries is not enough. Without vigorous organising efforts in Asia and Latin America, or anywhere in which labour standards and wages are low, then the ‘super union’ could function as a labour cartel to benefit workers in rich countries.

Nevertheless, this is a positive development and an excellent way to start the Hidden Paw, with a reminder that organization is imperative if we are to take control of the global economy.

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