Central to the collective work of the GLI Network has been the development of international schools on the politics of the international trade union movement – held in the UK, France, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, and now planned in Latin America. GLI Network organisations also support the political education work of the Global Union Federations and numerous national unions.
The overall objective of the programme is to provide open spaces to debate and question what are, and what should be, the politics of the international trade union movement. We face unprecedented attack from the far right, financial markets, corporations and governments, in the context of economic, ecological and political crisis.
There are some causes for optimism: then growth of international industrial organisation, evidence of increasing corporate vulnerability to well-organised and targeted campaigns, and a new generation of activists emerging from unions and movements for democracy and climate justice.
Yet there is a political vacuum. Union members want an international political alternative to neo-liberalism and corporate capitalism, but little emerges beyond rhetoric. Many of the formal institutions of the international labour movement have retreated into a bland, lowest common denominator of politics, shy of even basic principles of social democracy, let alone any mention of democratic socialism. But this is precisely the time when radical political solutions – and a new sense of political direction for the international trade union movement – are needed.
The GLI Network Political Education Programme is a modest contribution towards this, financially and politically supported by a wide range of international trade union federations, national unions, and labour movement support organisations.
The programme has already had a major impact on the young activists who participate – much more aware of the global political environment and the international labour movement, and hugely benefiting from a unique space for political debate and reflection.