Trade unions, east and west
Veteran journalist John Lloyd has written a commentary in today’s FT on the prospects for trade unionism east and west. As a former labour editor and Moscow correspondent, he is well-placed and sympathetic. John has often been pessimistic about the future of British trade unionism, but not with the sense of glee that you often come across: he has often argued that society is the poorer for the decline of trade unionism. My view is that he is wrong when he says the decline is unavoidable (in this article he charts some possible routes out of decline such as arguing against the cuts and growing inequality). But he mostly draws attention to some of the positive signs of activity in trade unionism in Asia, using the recent protests in Cambodia and China. He could of course also have mentioned the textile strikes in Bangladesh or Pakistan, and the increasing militancy of Vietnamese workers. What he doesn’t do (and maybe it’s impossible in a single FT comment) is assess the impact growing trade unionism in the East will have on the developed economies, although he notes the role in the East of western companies Gap, Benetton and Adidas. The TUC view is that stronger trade unionism anywhere floats all boats. Anyway, thanks for the coverage, John!