From the TUC

Sharing lessons down under

18 Mar 2012, By

A high-level TUC delegation, led by President Paul Kenny from the GMB and General Secretary Brendan Barber, is visiting our sister organisation in Australia, the ACTU. Over the next fortnight, we’ll be meeting union leaders in Sydney and Melbourne, Brendan will address the ACTU Executive, and we’ll be ‘speed dating’ with key Government Ministers, many of them ex-trade union leaders themselves.

There are huge opportunities for collaboration between the British and Australian union movements, sometimes obscured by the distances involved and, perversely, our traditional poms and Aussies relationship.

There is enough in common to make tactics and strategy transferable, as political parties have realised: a former No 10 spin doctor is advising Australia’s PM Julia Gillard, while Liberal attack dog Lynton Crosby ran Boris Johnson’s initial campaign for the London Mayoralty. Union links are less common although there are examples, especially in the global union movement, where the former ACTU President Sharan Burrow took over from ex-TUC official Guy Ryder as ITUC General Secretary.

We’re getting much better about exchanging ideas about strategy though. The phenomenally successful Your Rights at Work campaign ahead of the 2007 Australian election (which itself used the UK as an example of an industrial relations system – albeit one to avoid!) has been quarried for lessons for the TUC’s campaign for the alternative to austerity, and the ACTU’s current Howe enquiry into insecure work owes a lot to the TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment. We regularly exchange ideas about organising, and some initial corporate campaigning has seen the TUC assisting the AWU over union rights in British Alcan.

So this fortnight provides an opportunity to develop solidarity work further, and usher in a new exchange of experiences and ideas.

One Response to Sharing lessons down under

  1. nick venedi
    Mar 18th 2012, 11:09 am

    I was shocked to hear Brian Paddick, who I previously thought of as being rather reasonable, describe Greeks in London as kebab shop owners, that is what his remarks implied unless he meant to say that the police train them to put communities in pigeon holes? If yes then that is even worst!

    Many in the Greek community find this type of stereotyping offensive. The association between ethnicity and certain low ranking jobs promotes negative images. It would be wrong to say that all corner shop owners are Asian and anyone who says that should be challenged but it appears that people who should know better, like Mr Paddick, can indirectly target a smaller community. I shall be encouraging the 300,000 strong members of the London Greek community (most of them eager voters) to be casting their vote the right way!

    It is not acceptable for people who wish to represent London to be making irresponsible remarks