USi held a meeting today at the Unite the Union Policy Conference titled ‘Resisting Austerity in Europe’. Over seventy people attended the fringe event demonstrating the desire for workers to unite over Europe and beyond.
The meeting was chaired by Mark Lyon of the Unite International Committee and the included Andrew Brady of USi, Tony Burke (Assistant General Secretary of Unite), Jimmy Kelly (Irish Unite Secretary), and Nagia Nikolaou representing the Athens Labour Centre (EKA).
Andrew spoke of the progress USi has made over the weeks since its birth on International May. With over 15,000 hits on the website – including the City of Athens being the most popular place of origin for visiting usilive.org – and thousands of people involved in our media streams great progress has been made.
The core campaigns to build Solidarity with Greece, raising awareness of the injustices domestic workers confront and to organise brick kiln workers in India was warmly received by those in attendance. Andrew discussed the opportunity to link up union members and branches across the world utilizing technology to help make the connections that geography does not often allow through webinars and podcasts is an important tool in uniting workers.
USi also brought to the attention of delegates that branch affiliation strategy and that part of this will be to help assist union branches and members to build social media networks to help act as a campaign tool to fight austerity. Delegates also warmly reacted to the suggestion that union branches could be twinning with others across the world as a gesture of meaningful solidarity and that USi can assist in this process.
Tony Burke spoke of the new global union federation IndustriALL’s campaign to support Spanish miners. 10,000 coal miners in Spain are on the front-line of the European austerity debate as their workplaces are shutdown by national budget cuts, to pay for the debts of the banks. Social media is vital in helping to connect workers and this is why Unite the Union strongly supported USi. Tony also discussed how employers across the continent of Europe are using the crisis as an opportunity to attack employment rights and to dismantle collective bargaining.
For more from Tony listen here.
Download Tony Burke’s talk.
Jimmy Kelly in an excellent contribution provided the quote of the day saying that: “we need union strength and solidarity not sympathy”. Ireland has the highest unemployment rate of the EU 15 and the worrying trend of emigration – once again – which hides the true scale of unemployment.
Jimmy also praised USi as an initiative which can help build genuine solidarity across borders and that it has a vital role to play in the fight against neo-liberalism and austerity.
For more from Jimmy listen here.
Download Jimmy Kelly’s talk
Finally we had the contribution from Nagia Nikolaou representing the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) who is officially working with USi. Nagia spoke of the humanitarian crisis impacting upon Greek society, which we have covered widely on USi. In a must watch video via The Guardian the impact of austerity in the biggest hospital in Greece is clear for all to see.
Nagia stated EKA’s commitment to working with USi to help build solidarity through social media and technology so we can make a difference on the ground. There was a need for a strong common front against neo-liberalism and austerity and that USi was playing a vital role in trying to achieve this.
The rise of Golden Dawn – Neo Nazis – was a development of wide concern for not only Greece but for all trade unionists and workers and we needed to collectively confront this evil.
For more from Nagia listen here.
Download Nagia Nikolaou’s talk.
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