Speaker: Sharan Burrow, ITUC.
Date: Thursday 11th July, 2014.
Live session with Sharan Burrow of the ITUC joining the Summer School by video link.
The summer school commission prepared a number of questions for Sharan.
They asked about Qatar, and what the trade union movement is doing about that, but also about the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and the Serbian migrant workers who are building stadia there.
Sharan replied that Qatar is an opportunity to put slavery firmly on the agenda, to crack down on the kafala system and to fundamentally change the way workers are treated in the Gulf and other places.
The Commission asked about privatisation and the union fight for public control of resources, and how to educate union members and build a generation of activists.
The Commission asked how the union movement could attract more young people. Sharan answered that there was a break down between union structures and activists, and that this needed to change.
She finished by saying:
We are the greatest democratic force on Earth, and we need to get stronger.
Questions from the floor included:
- How is the ITUC building unions in Bangladesh in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster?
- How is the ITUC tackling the issue of corporate impunity, where massive companies are able to get away with terrible human rights abuses
- Everyone agrees we should be reaching out to social movements. Should the trade union movement make connections to radical left groups, particularly in the global South?
- Can the trade union movement develop and publicise an ideological alternative that can unite union members against capitalism?