Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The war on trade unions

Heard of the war on drugs? You probably have. But have you heard of the war on trade unions? If not, you should have because its going on all over the world. A recent report from Iraq showed that eight trade union leaders were forcibly transferred from Basra to Baghdad, where their lives are thought to be in danger. What is their crime? To oppose the sell-off of Iraq's oil to foreign corporations.

Meanwhile in Korea, top leaders of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions (KCTU) have been arrested by the government. Their crime was to call for a general strike, which the Korean Government has decided is illegal.

As a trade unionist I'm concerned about this but not in the least bit surprised because everywhere trade unions are under threat from global capital and the politicians who do its bidding. After all, we can't have trade unionists affecting profits can we? And all those employment rights and all that social justice just get in the way of making a buck or two. And that's what really matters in a capitalist world - isn't it?

One of the major reasons why there are so many low paid people in the UK, and there is a widening gap between rich and poor is because trade unions have been hobbled by Thatcherite anti-union legislation. Here we don’t lock up trade unionists, we just make sure they can’t defend the livelihoods of their members.

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