Globalisation has put national labour movements under severe pressure due to the increasing transnationalisation of production and informalisation of the economy. A new research project on Globalization and thePossibility of Transnational Actors: The Case of Trade Unions, led by Prof. Knut Kjeldstadli at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo, investigates to what extent trade unions may be able to develop into transnational actors in order to counter these pressures successfully.
|Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo|
Globalization is a comprehensive process taking place on several societal levels, yet with an increasingly interwoven economy as prime mover. The process is driven by conscious actors, states and transnational corporations. Among the 100 largest economic units, 51 are corporations, 49 are states. The result is huge differentials of power and distribution of goods. The problems cannot be handled within national state frames alone. This raises the question whether there are actors that may be a counteractive force, a ‘historical subject’. The project shall investigate the international trade union movement, as this is most directly facing the corporations and has the relatively strongest organization among present social movements.
The various subprojects deal with the construction and health sectors in Europe, two sectors which are heavily affected by migrant labour and the challenges this poses for labour movements. They look at the pressure on national collective bargaining systems, the increasing precarisation of the economy and the role temporary work agencies play in these processes. The exploration of novel, progressive forms of labour agency, which go beyond the traditional discussion of trade union agency, includes the Norwegian building workers’ union’s efforts to recruit migrant workers, the Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR), a novel international organization made up of trade unions of the Global South, as well as the Rights to Water alliance. Overall, the main ambition is to move beyond individual case studies and to start conceptualizing the necessary conditions for successful resistance by labour understood in a broad sense.
15 September 2013