Arab unions set agenda for dealing with globalisation

International Transport Workers' Federation, ITF News Online, 23 July 2004

Transport unionists in the Arab world are demanding participation in economic decision-making to combat the negative effects of globalisation.

The 28 representatives, including five women, from transport unions in Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen met at an International Confederation of Free Trade Unions-ITF workshop in Amman, Jordan, on 12-14 July. They stated that unions needed a voice in decisions concerning the economy and the development of labour legislation if the impact of globalisation on workers was to be minimised.

Opening the discussions, Saleh Brour, Assistant General Secretary of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions emphasised the need for democracy and financial and political independence for trade unions. These were necessary conditions for building strong unions capable of contesting change, he argued.

Solidarity between Arab and international trade union organisations was also vital according to Bilal Malkawi, the ITF’s Regional Coordinator for the Arab countries. Unions in the region, he said, should join the ITF as a step towards equipping themselves to deal with the global environment, particularly multinational companies.

Other recommendations focused on areas such as identifying the education and training needs of unions and workers, recognising the positive role of women in public and trade union life, and engaging trade unions in health and safety awareness campaigning.

Solidarity with Palestinian transport workers in their struggle against oppression was also expressed.