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Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 19:23:53 -0000
Reply-To: peter waterman <waterman@antenna.nl>
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: peter waterman <p_waterman@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Women to shape future of trade union movement - global survey launched
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Will ICFTU survey ensure women shape the future of the international trade union movement?

By Peter Waterman, 26 January 2001

Thanks to Charles Brown for this one, which I picked up from the ICFTU site, and which is also available through LabourStart.

Having also looked at the survey instrument itself, I feel obliged to pose the question above.

Like a number of recent ICFTU initiatives (on a Social Clause in the WTO, a 'union' domain name on the internet), this one indicates to me an institutional intention of goodwill rather than a serious international social movement strategy.

In this case, the survey is to be circulated on the Web directly, and also sent to national trade unions to further circulate. If there is any method here it quite escapes me. What it would seem at best to achieve is a series of quite arbitrary responses, from which no possible statistical or arguably representative responses could be drawn, but on the basis of which the (unnamed) committee or officer could then produce some equally arbitrary interpretation.

I won't go into the questionnaire itself, since I am no specialist on such, but, since it consists mostly of yes/no or preferential options, with a very limited open-response element, and since the questions are themselves are of a general, if not banal, kind, I have doubts here also.

I would have thought there was more than sufficient research and/or journalistic evidence on the basis of which to produce a more systematic analysis and proposal. I recall, for example, an excellent Indian study, from Bombay, early 1980s.

Moreover, I know of a number of excellent organisations, committees and networks that have been working on women and unions over the years and have produced their own such analyses and strategies. So does the ICFTU, since it has worked with several such.

So why reduce this crucial matter for the international union movement to the level of what looks to me like a publicity stunt?

I would be interested in a response to this from, 1) The ICFTU office or officer concerned, 2) working women's networks, committees, and feminist labour specialists.


Peter W