UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Trade union internationalism and practical solidarity

This weekend a very productive joint region international seminar at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester brought together 50 UNISON activists from Northern, North West and Scotland. Building on a session in Glasgow in 2013, the event heard a keynote presentation on TTIP from Polly Jones of the World Development Movement and following workshops an action plan was agreed to step up campaigning/lobbying on the proposed trade deal which will open up public services to US corporations as well as undermine democracy.

Delegates were briefed by Komal Adris on an important union led initiative in Ramallah, West Bank, to establish an Institute of Knowledge and Socialist Thought for Palestinian workers. Phil Lenton reported on the UNISON supported work of Jafra, a Palestinian youth centre in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus where tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees are currently living under siege and without electricity and water.

Clare Williams and Conor McArdle reported on several projects promoted by UNISON Northern Region in Colombia supporting communities facing military repression and promoting women's self organisation and community leadership. This work will be taken forward with the support of other UNISON regions and the union's international development fund.

Sam McCartney and Eurig Scandrett reported on an upcoming UNISON Scotland delegation to Bhopal, India and stressed the importance of stepping up the campaign in solidarity with survivors of the Bhopal Disaster in the 30th anniversary year of the industrial catastrophe caused by corporate negligence.

Veteran anti apartheid campaigner Archie Sibeko reflected on lessons of the anti apartheid struggle and the new challenges facing the South African trade union movement.

A highly productive weekend, which opened on Friday evening at NW regional office with a talk by Rodney Bickerstaffe on 'why we are internationalists' and entertainment by radical poet Dave Puller and singer Claire Mooney, was rounded off by Walton Pentland of Union Solidarity International and Dave Owen of UNISON North West who summed up the agreed action plan which will prioritise TTIP campaigning and practical solidarity work in Palestine, Colombia and Bhopal.

The 2015 joint regional seminar will be held in Durham, hosted by Northern region.