« Interviews with six more participants | Main | Zimbabwe: IUF condemns attacks on opposition, demands rule of law, freedom of association »

Global companies - global unions?

In an extraordinary session of the IUF Congress, participants have had the chance to listen to a panel including -- perhaps for the first time at a global trade union event -- the chief executive officer of a major transnational corporation.

The panel, moderated by BBC journalist Paul Mason, included Sharan Burrow (president of the Australian Trade Union Congress and the International Trade Union Confederation), Graciela Camano (vice president of the Argentinian Parliament and former Labour Minister) and Franck Riboud, CEO of Danone Group, one of the world's largest corporations and a key player in the food sector.

Sharan Burrow (pictured) commented on IUF documents distibuted at the congress, urging unions to go further than what they have done so far, and stressing the key role to be played by global unions -- including organizing workers in countries where there are no unions today.

Franck Riboud (pictured) spoke about the importance of there being "strong trade unions" around the world, and cited Danone's largely positive experience with the IUF, having signed several joint agreements. When asked what would be the one thing he would like to change, Riboud spoke about having managers in different countries who shared his vision -- and who were willing to work closely with unions.

Graciela Camano (pictured) pointed out that unions several decades ago were in many ways more international than they are today -- citing the example of the world-wide struggle for the eight-hour day.

Discussion followed, with participation from delegates.