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A Global Labour Charter for Humanity : If Not Now, When ?

A Labour Project for the World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil, January 27-February 1, 2009

Peter Waterman
p.waterman@inter.nl.net

***

If I am not for myself, then who will

be for me ?

And if I am only for myself, then what

am I ?

And if not now, when ?

Rabbi Hillel

Se non ora, quando ?

Primo Levi

***

Proposed - CACIM & Watermania

Speakers

Chris Carlsson - Director of the multimedia history project Shaping San Francisco; a writer, publisher, editor, and community organiser; co-founder of Processed World and the monthly bike-ins known as Critical Mass

Peter Waterman - Taught at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, for nearly thirty years; specialised in labour and social movements; has been active in international organizations all his life; co-editor of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires and author of Creating the New Global Solidarity : Labour, Social Movements and Emancipation in the 21st Century


This is an open – and urgent - proposal for a seminar, workshop or other appropriate event to take place at the coming World Social Forum in Belem, January 27-February 1, 2009. ‘Open’ means anybody and any body can take the baton from here and pass it forward. ‘Urgent’ means now. (Note : CACIM has agreed; with coordination by Peter Waterman.)

The one condition is that any such event be open to all interested comers. (Agreed.)

Behind this proposal is the feeling that international labour’s current strategy declarations, campaigns, manifestos – or whatever – have either 1) too low a profile, or are 2) too modest/defensive, are 3) too scattered or partial and, in any case, are 4) in need of synthesis and refinement. They are not yet adequate to the increasing war on labour by a globalised, informatised, neo-liberal capitalism (and the threat of its current financial crisis).

Whatever one’s opinion, however, of such strategies as are below listed (or others that will surely be added), it cannot but be beneficial to bring such together in free public dialogue.

Some of the positions I am aware of are the following (details under resources below):

Decent Work for a Decent Life (ILO/ITUC/Global Unions)

Declaration of Maputo: V International Conference of La Via Campesina (Via Campesina)

Labour's Platform for the Americas (ORIT/TUCA),

The International Labour and Trade Union Movement in the 21st Century (WFTU)

Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights Declaration (SIGTUR)

IV European Union-Latin? America and the Caribbean Summit Union Declaration (TUCA, ETUC, ITUC)

The Appeal of the Labour and Globalisation Assembly in the WSF of Nairobi - January 2007

Preamble to the IWW Constitution (IWW),

To Build a Workers’ United Front (World Forum of Alternatives, Bamako Appeal, 2005)

Towards the Global Emancipation of Labour (Labour Group, World Forum of Alternatives Conference, 2008)

Global Labour Charter Project (Peter Waterman)

For the Promotion of Informal Workers of the World (StreetNet)

Sex Workers´ Declaration at the 2008 International Aids Conference in Mexico (SWOP-USA)

Workers in the Informal Economy: Platform of Issues (WIEGO)

The case for bringing such positions or declarations together in one (or several alternative?) documents needs hardly to be "made". It is, rather, "demonstrated" by the following ones:

Women’s Global Charter for Humanity (WMW)

The Global Economic Crisis: An Historic Opportunity for Transformation (TNI/FGS)

The Women’s Global Charter was drawn up after rounds of discussion by an international women’s network, the World March of Women. It is an impressively brief and forceful declaration of principle. Inevitably, it deals also with capitalist globalisation and work.

"If women, as collective subjects and global actors can do this, why not workers (including working women)?"

The Global Economic Crisis document addresses itself to a global problem as it presents itself at one critical moment. Proposing an all-round alternative to neo-liberal globalisation, it also touches on work. But what is striking about this appeal is its immediate launching in cyberspace, with a call for endorsement and an invitation to discussion.

"If left economists can do this, why not the global labour movement?"

I have drafted and circulated a model (not the model) for such a global labour charter. It has so far been only privately approved. No problem. It is an individual attempt and may be considered too revolutionary, too reformist, too utopian, too unrelated to present labour struggles. But, given the low labour profile in a rising global justice and solidarity movement, I am hoping it will be considered a challenge.

If not now, when?

Peter Waterman Malmo, Caracas, The Hague October 2008

"Peter Waterman (London 1936) worked twice for the international Communist movement in Prague, the second time experiencing the Soviet invasion of 1968, the worker and popular response to this and the failure of the World Federation of Trade Unions to back this up. He became an academic labour specialist at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, and, later, a specialist on labour and other internationalisms, old and new. In the 1980s he edited the Newsletter of International Labour Studies. Around 1986 he launched the international debate on ‘Social Movement Unionism’. Since retirement in 1998, he has concentrated on the relationship of labour with/in the World Social Forum and the global justice and solidarity movement. He publishes widely and is well represented on the web."

Resources

Appeal of the (Labour and Globalisation) Assembly in the World Social Forum, Nairobi (external link)

Decent Work for a Decent Life (external link) (ILO/ITUC/Global Unions)

Declaration of Maputo: V International Conference of La Via Campesina (external link) (Via Campesina),

For the Promotion of Informal Workers of the World (external link) (StreetNet), .

Global Labour Charter Project (external link) (Peter Waterman),

IV European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit (Labour) Declaration (external link)

Labour's Platform for the Americas (external link) (ORIT),

Preamble to the IWW Constitution (external link) (Industrial Workers of the World),

Sex Workers´ Declaration at the 2008 International Aids Conference in Mexico (SWOP-USA) (external link),

Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights Declaration (SIGTUR) (external link)

The Global Economic Crisis: An Historic Opportunity for Transformation (TNI/FGS) (external link)

The International Labour and Trade Union Movement in the 21st Century (WFTU) (external link)

To Build a Workers’ United Front (The Bamako Appeal) (external link),

Towards the Global Emancipation of Labour (Labour Group, World Forum of Alternatives Conference, 2008) ???@???

Declaration of Maputo: V International Conference of La Via Campesina (Via Campesina) (external link),

Women’s Global Charter for Humanity. (WMW) (external link),

Workers in the Informal Economy: Platform of Issues (WIEGO) (external link),

Women’s Global Charter for Humanity. (WMW) (external link)


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