International Summer School, UK 2015

The 2015 GLI International Summer School brought together more than 100 trade union activists from over 30 countries across the world to Northern College in Barnlsley, UK, to discuss the salient issues and questions facing the international trade union movement. Participants grappled with a range of topics from “big picture” trends in global capitalism, to questions about how to organise workers who have been tradionally excluded from trade union structures – from sex workers in Europe to domestic workers in South Africa and home-based workers in Pakistan.

The School culminated in the adoption of a Summer School “Living Manifesto” – a document which pulled together many discussion threads from the week, and from previous Summer Schools, to act as a stimulant to further discussion amongst trade unionists throughout the world.

The “Living Manifesto“, along with archived videos, blog posts and presentations from the School can be found by following the links to sessions below. We hope that this archive will provide an educational resource for all those who recognise the pressing need for the debates of the Summer School to continue and to develop…

GLI is hugely thankful to the School’s particicipants and the staff at Northern College for making the 2015 Summer School such a success.

Click links below for videos, blog posts, presentations and further reading…

Introduction to the 2015 GLI Summer School“Come join us!”

Short #ISS15 film – produced by the Summer School Commission

GLI is hugely grateful to the small team of participants who produced this short film about the 2015 Summer School. The film was produced whilst the School was taking place and provides a wonderful snapshot of topics covered, questions raised and partcipants’ reflections on the week.

Pre-School BriefingA Starter Kit for International Trade Unionists

Dave Spooner, Global Labour Institute (GLI), Manchester

A brief guided tour around the political and organisational landscape of the movement – for all those who are new to international trade union discussions.

Plenary PresentationCapitalism, Anti-Capitalism and the Trade Union Movement

Asbjørn Wahl, Fagforbundet (Norwegian Union of Municipal & General Employees)

Asbjørn offers some thoughts on capitalism, globalisation, crises, and neoliberalism; poses the question of “who gained most from the ‘social pact’ of the post-war era?” and argues the case for a re-politicised trade union movement.

Solidarity with Greece

Discussion with Dikaios Psikakos (Solidarity4All) & Leonie Sharp (Society of Union Employees, UK)

Dikaios introduces the Greek grassroots resistance and solidarity organisation ‘Solidarity 4 All’, while Leonie gives a critical overview of the Greek trade unions role in, and response to, the ongoing crisis.

The Fall & Rise of Labour? How the current state of the world’s trade movement looks from the perspective of different regions and contexts

Assaf Adiv, WAC-MAAN, Israel; Vasco Pedrina, GLI Geneva / UNIA, Switzerland; Hui Xu, Migrant Workers Service Centre, China; Baba Aye, Medical & Health Workers’ Union, Nigeria

Four presentations on the state of the labour movement in four different countries/regions of the world: Israel, Europe, China and Africa.

The Politics of OrganisingWhat do we mean by “organising”? Education and organising methods in the international labour movement

Introduction by Dave Spooner, GLI Manchester

How should trade unions organise workers? Dave Spooner begins to answer this question with a lively history of the different models of organising, and explaining the debate that still rages between different schools of methodology, most notably the schools of ‘active learning’ and the ‘new organising model’.

The Experience of Organising – how are we using education and organising in rebuilding unions from below?

Introduced by Ewa Jasiewicz, Unite the Union

Ewa Jasiewicz recounts her time organising with workers in Iraq and Palestine before moving on to discuss in more detail the ongoing campaigns, ideas and methods employed by the Unite London Hotel Workers Branch.

Organising Informal Workers – panel debate between organisers of informal workers, led by questions from the floor.

Ume Laila Azhar, HomeNet Pakistan; Myrtle Witbooi , International Domestic Workers Federation; Thierry Schaffhauser, Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS)

Three presentations on the topic of “organising informal workers” with speakers from Pakistan, South Africa and France: Pakistan: organising home-based and domestic workers; South Africa: organising domestic workers; France: organising sex workers.

Trade Agreements – What are the challenges raised by TTIP, TISA etc? What are the underlying political issues for the union movement? What are our alternatives

John Hilary, War on Want, UK

John Hilary talks about the threats posed by new corporate-fueled free trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). He argues: “free trade agreements are fantastic if you’re a transnational corporation, and pretty rubbish if you’re anyone else.”

Union-Party Relationships – Stay together for the sake of the children or get a divorce? Should unions align themselves with political parties?

Menaha Kandasamy, Ceylon Red Flag Union, Sri Lanka & Fatima Aguado, Workers’ Commissions, (CC.OO), Spain.

Speakers from Sri Lanka, Spain and the UK address the often hotly debated topic of union and party relationships – if, how and when should trade unions affiliate to political parties.

Unions & Climate Change

Sean Sweeney, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy & Chris Baugh, Public & Commercial Services Union, UK

Sean Sweeney and Chris Baugh make a very convincing case for the involvement of the labour movement in the struggle for energy democracy.

The Housing Assembly – Decent Housing for All

Faeza Meyer & Josie Abrahams, Housing Assembly, South Africa

Faeza Meyer and Josie Abrahams, two women housing activists from the South African social movement the Housing Assembly, join the Summer School as part of their UK speaker and documentary screening tour hosted by War on Want.

Do we speak the same political language? What do unions mean by Socialism?, Feminism? or Syndicalism? How are unions developing the politics of the left?

 Bishnu Lamsal, General Fedn. of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT); Stephanie Luce, Murphy Institute for Worker Education, City University of New York; Derek Keenan, Strathclyde University

‘Socialism’, ‘feminism’ and ‘syndicalism’ are central concepts for the labour movement. But do we actually mean the same things when we speak about these issues? As a basis for discussion, three presenters offered their perspectives on socialism, feminism and syndicalism.

Our Common Purpose – What should be the political vision and strategy of the international trade union movement

Daniel Bertossa , Public Services International (PSI); Ambet Yuson, Building & Woodworkers International (BWI); Stuart Howard, International Transportworkers Federation (ITF); Christy Hoffman, Union Network International (UNI)

Introduced by Dan Gallin, GLI Geneva, speakers from four Global Union Federations discuss this fundamental question.

Book Launch – Struggle in a time of crisis

Book launch with Nicolas Pons-Vignon, chaired by Dan Gallin

“Struggle in a time of crisis” brings together essays by an array of distinguished global contributors who are devoted to working with labour movements and their allies around the world to stimulate debate about the challenges facing labour groups and activists amid increasing globalization.

An International Summer School Manifesto?

Discussion led by the Summer School Commission.

The Summer School Commission, a group of younger/less experienced participants, lead a discussion to present and debate the “Living Manifesto” which has been developed by the Commission throughout the week.