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Fighting for our members on the global stage

11 October 2018

Dear Team TSSA

I wanted to update you on my trip to South East Asia. I’m in Singapore for the Congress of our Global Trade Union Federation. It takes place just once once every four years and is always a moving reminder that our union is part of a global union family representing 19.7 million transport workers across our planet. Our Congress brings together over 670 trade unions from more than 140 countries in a powerful show of international solidarity.

Our delegation will be putting forward your views on the many workplace issues effecting you and your colleagues. Over the next 8 days, we will be exercising on your behalf our democratic right to elect our global leaders and to bring forward motions to reflect the changing world in which we now live and work. We will come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by transport workers, just like you, the world over. Congress will also be the launching pad for our international family to take forward a vision which helps us build power particularly within the many multi-national companies now dominating our industries.The history of our global federation is a noble one indeed. It was created in 1896 to provide international solidarity for dock workers involved in strikes in Rotterdam and Hamburg. That's why following on from this great and proud tradition, I was delighted to visit the Hanoi Federation of Labour on my way to Congress on behalf of the General Federation of Trade Unions, of whom we are a proud affiliate too.

Our delegation will be putting forward your views on the many workplace issues effecting you and your colleagues. Over the next 8 days, we will be exercising on your behalf our democratic right to elect our global leaders and to bring forward motions to reflect the changing world in which we now live and work. We will come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by transport workers, just like you, the world over. Congress will also be the launching pad for our international family to take forward a vision which helps us build power particularly within the many multi-national companies now dominating our industries.

The history of our global federation is a noble one indeed. It was created in 1896 to provide international solidarity for dock workers involved in strikes in Rotterdam and Hamburg. That's why following on from this great and proud tradition, I was delighted to visit the Hanoi Federation of Labour in Vietnam on behalf of the General Federation of Trade Unions, of whom we are a proud affiliate too. I stopped off en route to Singapore Congress.

We may be many thousands of miles apart but many of the challenges you face are also prevalent for our Vietnamese sister and brothers. We had a great discussion about casualisation of work and also about the many threats automation and artificial intelligence pose for working people.

Like in Britain, unionised taxi drivers in Vietnam are having to battle Uber. Our colleagues in the Hanoi Federation of Labour are completely frustrated and angry by their total disregard for workers rights and their implementation of employment practices whose sole aim is to lower labour standards.

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of commonality on how we should tackle these issues. We agreed on the paramount need for a reduction in the working week without lost of pay to minimise the effects of robotisation. On Uber and casualisation, we are united in seeking tougher regulations to stop unscrupulous bosses from taking advantage of workers. I have no doubt that these two issues will also figure very prominently during Congress.

Vietnam is in a very different place to us when it comes to political freedom and freedom of association. And not in a good way. But the problems which a globalised economy is posing for their workers are the same as the ones you face. Yet, the scale of its recent industrialisation is simply astounding. In Hanoi alone, a city with roughly the population of London, there are over 2.5 million factory workers. That's almost as many as we have in Britain as a whole.

In recent months there has been much civil and labour unrest. People are protesting against the Vietnamese government decision to hand over control of bits of its economy to the Chinese. Frankly, this was hardly going to go down well in a country which throughout its history has been occupied by foreign powers and had to fight a very recent war for its liberation following the collapse of French Indochina. Sadly, the involvement of the United States in this conflict led to a catastrophic death toll.

Thankfully, Vietnam has moved on and is now fully focused on prioritising economic growth to help provide a better standard of living for its people. But growing Labour conflicts are challenging the so called supremacy of its Communist Party and its institutions. They in turn are having to rapidly evolve in response to this as otherwise they face being consigned to the dustbin of history. Time will tell whether they are capable of being reformed to meet the needs of their people or they'll be almost certainly overthrown if they fail to do so.

I want to thank our hosts in the Hanoi Federation of Labour for their great hospitality and very much look forward to continuing working with them to create a better world for working people. I will report further on what happens in our global conference in next week's edition of News On The Go.

In solidarity,

Manuel signature


Manuel

 

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