Why globalisation is bad news for millions of female workers

TUC Online, press release, 26 June 2003

Trade unionists from as far afield as Zimbabwe, the Philippines, India and Costa Rica, will be joining together with their UK colleagues tomorrow (Friday) to hear Trade and Industry Secretary and Minister for Women, Patricia Hewitt MP address the TUC's Gender and Globalisation conference.

Taking place at Congress House from 9.30am to 4.30pm, and chaired by TUC Assistant General Secretary, Kay Carberry, the TUC conference marks the start of a series of ‘24 hours for Trade Justice’events taking place nationwide this weekend. The events are organised by the Trade Justice Movement, a coalition of over 40 UK organisations—including the TUC—which is calling for reform of international trade rules.

Delegates will hear how globalisation and the drive towards the liberalisation of trade, is having an increasingly negative impact on the lives of millions of women workers around the globe.

The first speaker of the day is Patricia Hewitt at 9.30am who will talk to delegates about the importance of free and fair trade in helping developing countries move out of poverty. Other speakers include Miriam Mukutuma from the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions, Annie Geron from PSLink, a public sector union in the Philippines and Gladys Branch from the Sierra Leone Labour Congress.

When the delegates break for lunch, the TUC is teaming up with the World Development Movement for a bizarre giant game of snakes and ladders to show how international trade rules, rigged in favour of rich countries, are keeping poor countries in poverty.

Delegates will be pitched against rich countries in the rigged game of unfair trade snakes and ladders overseen by the less than impartial World Trade Organisation. Giant loaded dice, movable snakes and ladders and dodgy WTO refereeing will ensure that the poor countries always lose.

The game has been organised by the TUC and international trade campaigners, the World Development Movement (WDM), for the ‘24 Hours for Trade Justice’ events taking place nationwide from noon tomorrow to noon on Saturday in the run-up to the WTO Ministerial Conference taking place in Cancun later this year. Both the TUC and WDM are part of the Trade Justice Movement, a coalition of over 40 UK organisations calling for reform of international trade rules.

TUC Assistant General Secretary, Kay Carberry said: ‘The trend towards globalisation is hitting women particularly hard. This event highlights the problems women in developing countries face, and will encourage UK trade unions to help their overseas colleagues fight exploitation and discrimination.’

Head of Campaigns at the World Development Movement, Marlene Barrett said today: The rules of international trade are rigged against the world's poor and in favour of multinationals and rich countries. We need the UK Government to act to rebalance trade in favour of poor communities worldwide instead of pushing more free trade agreements that no one wants. The focus of WTO negotiations in Cancun must be reviewing and reforming the existing unfair and unbalanced WTO rules.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of campaigners from Shetland to Cornwall and from Belfast to Kent will lobby over 500 MPs in their constituencies. They will be asking MPs to demand that the Government take a lead at the forthcoming World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in rewriting world trade rules to benefit poor countries and the environment.

Notes to Editors:

Other ‘24 hours for Trade Justice’ events taking place around the country include:

In Brighton, campaigners will have a 24-hour lobbying stall in Pavilion Gardens, allowing MPs to take advantage of the city's 24 hour culture and drop in any time.

In Glasgow, campaigners will take over Bells Bridge, which will be swathed with banners.

In Tottenham, Casualty actor and Celebrity Fame Academy winner Kwame Kwei-Armah will lobby David Lammy MP, along with local campaigners.

In Newcastle, from five points in the city, campaigners will march to Grey's Monument. A minute's silence as a giant set of scales is raised will end with a roar of solidarity with campaigners around the country who are sharing in this moment.

In Manchester, an event will feature live music with a Zimbabwean 15 piece band at noon on Saturday 28 June.

In Nottingham, World Champion Boxer Jawid Khaliq will ‘fight’a small child to illustrate the injustice of world trade rules between rich and poor countries.

At the Glastonbury Festival, the campaign will have a huge presence. Headline band Radiohead are supporting Scale Up for Trade Justice, as are a number of other main performers. Festival-goers will be able to fax their MPs and join the campaign, with many stunts, stalls and events and a Trade Justice Procession.