By Jeff Monahan
There has been an interesting development in Australia over the last few months that exemplifies what Union Solidarity International is all about. The struggle is unlike most union movements like miners and textile workers or teachers and firemen, but it illustrates how a union in one continent can learn from a union in another and use that knowledge to their advantage. Sometimes it takes a mainstream topic like sport to shine light on how one union can help another.
Members of the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in Australia have been without a new collective bargaining agreement since last October and are demanding changes that are similar to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US. As it currently stands, the amount the rugby players are entitled to is set as a fixed amount as opposed to a percentage of total revenues like it is in the NBA. By demanding that their salaries be allowed to rise in proportion to revenue increases the players can guarantee that they are rewarded for the revenue they generate. After all, there would be no rugby at all without the players.
It may be difficult to sympathize with people who make good money playing a game. Compared to most labour unions they have it pretty easy, and they probably wouldn’t contest that. But although different in the type of work and pay scale they are similar in how both unions are concerned with fair pay. The RLPA are our example mainly because they openly stated that they are seeking a collective bargaining agreement similar to the NBA’s. There are probably many examples of how a steel workers’ union in one continent adopted an approach another union used in another continent, but rarely if ever are these strategies expressly noted in the media.
The important part is how powerful it can be when one union can adopt what worked for another union – or better yet, get in contact with them – and learn how to improve. This is what we at USi want to offer to trade unions around the world. This is how to create union solidarity on an international scale. We want to create a network so union leaders and negotiators and shop stewards in Asia are able to establish solidarity by getting assistance from their counterparts in Africa. We want our web conferences to provide a unique educational opportunity for anyone to learn more about global union movements. Just as the Australian rugby players researched different pay scale models in other sports leagues to improve their bargaining stance, trade unions have a lot to gain from the collective knowledge of their peers around the world.
If you want to be involved with the international union solidarity movement the best way to start is by affiliating with us, watching our webinars, following our social media streams, and checking our site regularly for updates. Tune in. Ask questions. Retweet us. Share our content on Facebook. With our powers combined we will strengthen unions around the globe and build solidarity.
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