Published: 16/02/2011

Analysing the answers to our questions on the future role of the IUF, we noticed that the vast majority would welcome a more proactive role of the IUF in coordinating and supporting organizing at the international level.
Proposals cover a wide range of different, mutually linked elements: On the one hand, this is about support for affiliates to build organizing capacity and overcome organizing obstacles in their respective countries: from solidarity support in times of conflict, over education, training and consultation on organizing issues, to developing strategies in particular for precarious and vulnerable and/or underrepresented groups of workers.
On the other hand, a number of envisage an enlarged role for the IUF in the coordination of affiliates activities: the building of global trade union networks, and consequently, development of global organizing campaigns, where affiliates would focus in a concerted effort on certain sectors and/or companies to build membership and global leverage.

Below is a summary of different elements that were mentioned, and the expectations for the conference and a future organizing network arising from these deliberations:

1. Solidarity support in case of employer hostility against affiliate`s organizing campaigns and international leverage for organizing

This is an area where the IUF has been working with all affiliates that have requested such support on an ongoing basis. As the examples in the “successes section” have shown, in many cases this has helped to neutralize employer resistance and win important victories. Affiliates  refer to those examples and ask for further activities in this regard:

•  “We expect support from IUF especially when we are trying to organise in a business of a multinational corporation. If workers dismissed from their work because of organising activities, demonstrations should be organized and press release should be made. We expect an increase in the level of international support.” Toley-Is, Turkey
• “To help gather detailed information and research into companies, develop links with other unions  and facilitate cross-border support, conduct actions as part of an organizing campaign to put pressure on companies, organize messages of solidarity and support from around the world which gives a boost to members (example of Coke)-also encourages members to think more creatively about their own actions “ Jennie Formby, Unite
•  “Help to develop tools to assist any global context – drawing on ILO standards, OECD guidelines, company pressure points, going after brands” – James Ritchie, DWU

2. Education, Training and consultation

Especially where unions are about to develop new organizing strategies, there is a demand for support for education, training and consultation, including, in some cases, financial support, but mainly referring to the transfer of expertise::
• “Support with education, planning and capacity building” Peter Nielsen, 3F
• For us the IUF remains in the forefront, opening for us the new approaches, new methods, new ways to work, imparting us the positive experience of our colleagues” Sergey Khobotnya, AIWU Ukraine
• “We would like the IUF to help us transfer experiences from the international level, that we could adapt to Tunisian circumstances. So we need to know how organizing is done in other countries. We would also need experts from the IUF coming to work together with us on a strategy for growing membership and a plan for implementing this strategy, and support the education of activists that will implement the plan.” Houcine Krimi, FGAT-UGTT
• “As we experienced in Pakistan, IUF extended full cooperation by means of finances, human resources, developing global campaign material, documenting evidences and global negotiation on our behalf. But the main thing is that local/national affiliates should be able to sustain their campaign and for this strong communication, consultation and coordination is essential which IUF did well. It should be improved by making such structures and debate at regional levels. (…) A global union should facilitate to train local and national leadership which is essential for organizing and improve bargaining power which will lead to increase strong dues paying membership.” Khaista Rehman, NFFBTW, Pakistan

3. Developing strategies on organizing casual, informal, and other vulnerable and/or underrepresented groups of workers

This was a need expressed by many interviewees, and was reflected also in proposals for discussion at the upcoming conference:
•  “We think the IUF should promote exchange on how to organize agency workers and deal with precarious work. We have to do something about this, we need to enhance the sense of urgency to organize workers with insecure jobs as we call them”  Peter Moossdorff, FNV
• ” [We should discuss] strategies to organize Domestic Workers, Informal Sector, more youth and women.” Deograsia Vuluwa, CHODAWU
• “A more unified position among affiliates to temporary work, contract work,” Kjell Mjaatvedt, NNN
• “We need to exchange experience and learn how to address these “new” workers – young, flexible, and many of them better educated than our union members used to be in the old days. We need to understand what are the organizing issues for them (…). And, importantly, we need to discuss about gender equality in trade union development”. Moleko Phakedi, FAWU

4. Ensuring recognition, neutrality of TNCs for organizing and building global Union organization in TNCs

•  “The IUF also has a role in building global union organization within companies.  It would be great if the experience within Coca-Cola (the workers alliance) could be replicated within companies like Unilever so we can have global trade union meetings and coordinated actions. “ Jennie Formby, Unite
• “[A part of] the IUF’s role is to put unions in contact with each other within TNCs. By doing this we can share successes which can help motivate unions to organise within these companies. This helps to build relationships and networks “Charlie Donnelly, NUW
• “We think it would be good if the IUF could play a role to expand and strengthen IFAs.” KFSU, Korea
• “To create networks to share information and contacts. To negotiate with and put pressure on large companies such as Coca Cola. This work should be replicated (both building a global union network and putting pressure on corporate management) with other companies” Henri Lindholm, SEL, Finland

5. Coordination of organizing campaigns in TNCs or sectors and identifying international organizing targets

The questions on international organizing triggered a huge number of responses, most of which emphasized both the needs of international organizing drives and providing some first thoughts on conditions to make them successful – including commitment from affiliates, proper targeting and planning, and resourcing such campaigns:
•  “Some organizing campaigns only make sense in a coordinated way with other unions(…). If we start organizing there on our own, employers will just shift production across borders (…), and our campaign will not result in any improvement. The IUF could be a platform for those discussions.” Peter Moossdorff, FNV
•  “We should focus on a limited number of sectors. Then we could do something strong in 3-5 sectors, and we have to recognize that we can’t do the others to the same extent. In other sectors the work will be limited to the usual solidarity work”  Klaus Schroeter, NGG
• “The IUF could select one or two areas (either companies, sectors or issues such as precarious employment) and bring unions together to develop concrete international campaigns. This would require significant planning and would need to start with a comprehensive analysis of the problem (e.g.  precarious work), work currently being undertaken by affiliates, gaps in organization. Affiliates would then need to come together and build consensus on a plan. There would need to be ground work in each country, and buy in from affiliates so that they engaged in the work, didn’t opt out and built a plan” Charlie Donnelly, NUW
• “Recruiting in multinational companies – here the role of IUF was always obvious in terms of linking the affiliates with each other. But we can realistically start thinking of an “international organising project”, where IUF can play central role. Coordinating internationally and in liaison with other progressive groups we can be more effective. (…) There is a lot of potential to explore. We need careful thinking concerning an international target for organising, but the quicker – the better. Absolutely.” Linda Cromer, RWDSU, USA
• “GUF’s play a critical role in leveraging the rights to organize, and can organize strategic campaigns. Affiliates need to get active within GUF’s and organize the targeted companies in their own countries. Global agreements could become simply pieces of paper unless we make them real and a tool to build union power. The IUF has an accountability role to make sure that the work is happening to achieve this.” Grant Williams, SEIU, USA
•  “I like the idea to discuss what would happen if we identified joint targets. To see where we could be in 5 years if we link up organizational interest of each affiliate. It is clear that everybody stands to gain from that and we should discuss it under sort of “ A victory for one is a victory for all” notion.” Jeff Farmer, IBT; USA
•  “Putting some target to be organized. For example: which company, what issue, and what global or regional activities can be held by IUF in this regards.” FSPM
• “Small groups to promote real discussion would be good. Also would be great to look at the way unions have structured themselves to put real resources into external organizing, and making sure that resources don’t all get used up on existing members. It would also be helpful to look at multi union campaigns which have been successful, as well as community organizing best practice and building alliances. How do we challenge global finance, how that has changed employment relationships and what this means for global networks.” Jennifer Skurnik, Unite Here!

6. Providing background research and information on transnational companies

For national level organizing, but specifically to support international organising that have been raised by so many affiliates, the IUF would need extended research capacity to provide the background analysis needed to plan organizing and campaigning:
• “Gathering and sharing knowledge about TNC’s and their global supply chains, sharing info over affiliates experiences of organising”, James Ritchie, DWU
• “IUF can help the affiliates by informing them about the latest developments in the sub-sectors of its jurisdiction not only in an international aspect but also through regional offices.” Tekgida Is, Turkey
• “It would be helpful if the IUF could provide research on transnational companies“ Klaus Schroeter, NGG

7. Learn from each other: creating an ongoing organizers network and supporting information exchange on organizing best practice before, during, and after the conference

The vast majority of interviewees  expressed their interest in participating in an ongoing IUF organizing network. Some made more comments on what they would be expecting from such a network:
• “It would be interesting for us to learn, who of the colleagues work in similar environment (and how they do it) not only in TNC, but also at the local enterprises, how they get access to people and to the plants. Maybe it would make sense to have seminars with more narrow focus, at which people from one or close regions, or people working at the same type of plants would meet – then the information they would share would be more practical.” Sergey Khobotnya, AIWU Ukraine
• “Exchange of experiences with regard to difficulties and success factors, about result of targeted activities in other countries.” Lundgren, Kommunal, Sweden
• “The IUF has to summarize the best practice of the organizing work and this information should be circulated to the participants prior to the conference, so that during the conference people could meet in person those whose experience in of most interest for them to get more detailed information.   We would also be interested in hearing the critical comments on our work. “ Valentina Mazur, Sindlucas, Moldova
• “By organizing only 1 conference this awareness cannot be maintained. Therefore there should be more activities taking place not only in the international level but also in regional levels. Regional offices of IUF should work more in cooperation with local unions and IUF to train the union representatives and update them with recent developments of union movement. “ Tekgida-Is, Turkey

8. Creating a working group that would determine organizing strategies and plan of action to be discussed at congress, and future resources

• “The IUF should establish a committee of people representing affiliates and conduct an in-depth analysis of what is currently being done and what needs to happen in the future. This would include researching and assessing future trends. We need to figure out how we wage effective corporate  campaigns at a global level which open up organizing rights.  It is important to work out how the process of targeting works globally and how we build on and broaden out the successes to date” Grant William, SEIU
• “IUF role-could be never ending if the resources were available! It would be good if a group of people from unions were to sit down and have more discussion on this (how to generate resources and what to do with them) looking at the structure now and what can be changed/added to” Jennifer Skurnik, Unite here!, USA
• “The IUF could do a lot more with more resources. If we are spread too thinly then nothing will get done properly. One option could be to get different affiliates to take the lead with work in a particular company, or for affiliates  to provide the IUF with resources to work on  a specific campaign/company. (…) [The conference should be] exploring further the role of the IUF and the resources needed to fulfill that role” Jennie Formby
”Develop a framework for future work which can be adapted for each sector in their meetings, (…) We need to focus our work-provide the opportunity and resources for the IUF to carry out a focussed strategy, Malin Ackholt, HRF, Sweden