Our trade union video of the day comes from striking firefighters in New South Wales, Australia, who used their fire engines to block city streets, and then hosed down the politicians who were attacking their Workers’ Compensation. A fantastically insp …

Walton Pantland

Our trade union video of the day comes from striking firefighters in New South Wales, Australia, who used their fire engines to block city streets, and then hosed down the politicians who were attacking their Workers’ Compensation.

A fantastically inspiring action – please watch and share.

One of the earliest harbingers of the Arab Spring was rising trade union activism in Egypt, and particularly the Mahalla textile workers, who have been engaging in strident industrial action since 2006. Under Mubarak, Egyptian unions were controlled by the state, and the country was blacklisted by the ILO for failing to enforce ILO conventions on the right to organise.

One of the demands of the striking workers was the formation of independent trade unions, which have been coordinated by the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers’ Services, a labour service NGO that organises workers. When the Mubarak regime fell, there was hope that a new era of trade union freedom would dawn in Egypt. However, the caretaker rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has continued to oppress unions. The Egyptian media reports that Trade Unions Liberties Law has been stalled, and that despite the recent contested elections, our Egyptian brothers and sisters still face tremendous resistance too their organising efforts.

China is the workshop of the world, and is another country where workers struggle to organise freely. There have been growing signs of unrest in China recently as workers organise and resist the punishing conditions they face. This week, hundreds of migrant workers clashed with police in industrial Guandong.

Miners in Spain are taking part in the Marcha Negra – a 284 mile “black march” to Madrid to protest the 63% cut in coal subsidies that will destroy their industry and communities – something people from mining communities in the UK know too well. We need to do all we can to support these comrades at the front line of austerity – why not start by signing the IndustriALL / LabourStart campaign.

Any finally, today in labour history: the Industrial Workers’ of the World was founded on 27 June 1905 to build “One Big Union” of all the workers in the world.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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