Global trade unions march through London
I’ve not been blogging recently because I’ve been helping to organise the Put People First March for Jobs, Justice, Climate which takes place in London tomorrow. One of the things I’ve been working on is an international dimension to the trade unionists on the march, and the response has been staggering.Nearly 500 trade unionists from 16 countries around the world (mostly European, but including some Americans, Australians and Koreans) will be on the march. Sharan Burrow, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, will be speaking at the rally on behalf of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and she will be joined by Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers – a cross-border North American union (Leo himself is Canadian). Even the GMB President Mary Turner was born in Ireland!
The largest delegations are coming from Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands – including the President and General Secretary of both main Belgian trade union confederations (CSC and FGTB), the General Secretary of the Dutch socialist union FNV (Agnes Jongerius). The trains from Brussels and Paris tomorrow morning will be heaving with trade unionists – but the Dutch are using the ferry to get to Harwich.
Other European delegations are coming from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, and Turkey too. Germany will be represented by Frank Bsirske, General Secretary of their largest union ver.di, and the Spanish, Portuguese and Luxumbourg trade unions will be there too, as will the ETUC and Global and European sectoral federations – EMF, EI and PSI whose General Secretary, Peter Waldorff is attending.
It’s appropriate for a pre-G20 demonstration to have so many international trade unionists present, but this is the largest foreign presence on a demonstration that I can remember. With the next big demo likely to be the ETUC’s rolling May events in Madrid, Brussels, Berlin and Prague over 14-16 May, it’s shaping up to be an extraordinary year.