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WDDW on Union Island – War On Want

Dave Tucker

Transcript of a discussion on unions and NGOs campaigning for Decent Work as a route out of poverty, Dave Tucker (DaveWoW Muggins), Campaigner for War On Want.

[5:10]  johninnit Ni: Welcome to Dave Tucker from War On Want
[5:10]  Wotcher Tenk: Hi Dave
[5:10]  Vaughan Vantelli: hi Dave
[5:10]  johninnit Ni: the anti-poverty campaign NGO
[5:10]  DaveWoW Muggins: hi everyone
[5:11]  Erdenesaikhan Eel: Hi bro Dave
[5:11]  johninnit Ni: again a first time SL user
[5:11]  DaveWoW Muggins: i’m here for half hour to answer anything you like to ask…
[5:11]  IM: UNIglobalunion Oh: ok cool thank!
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: so if I can kick off!
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: today is a day for unions linking up on Decent Work issues, but also for reaching out
[5:12]  johninnit Ni: to the other organisations that are working on issues of Decent Work
[5:12]  Wotcher Tenk: Tell me, how does WoW see its link with WDDW ?
[5:13]  johninnit Ni: d’oh – Wotcher beat me to the question! I should be more direct…
[5:13]  Wotcher Tenk: ;)
[5:13]  DaveWoW Muggins: well we come out of the union movement anyway, so one of our main concerns is working conditions and workers rights. we’re one of the few NGOs in the UK to work directly with unions I think, so this is an important agenda for us. especially as it goes beyond core standards and into a more holistic way of looking at the role of work, which is key if we want to tackle poverty.
[5:15]  DaveWoW Muggins: but you’d be amazed how little this seems to be linked up in official thinking
[5:15]  johninnit Ni: War On Want are traditionally not one of the quieter NGOs
[5:15]  DaveWoW Muggins: yep!
[5:15]  johninnit Ni: you’re pretty forthright in your campaigns. I was interested to see your China campaign on your site, aiming to work with workers in China – which is an interesting situation for organised labour
[5:16]  Wotcher Tenk: Will you be pressing the ILO to measure decent work, relative to your own poverty indices? You could be a great help in giving the campaign some objectivity.
[5:17]  DaveWoW Muggins: well I’d have to say that our main focus is actually on the EU and specifically the elections next year.
[5:17]  DaveWoW Muggins: we’re trying to overturn the global europe trade strategy because we think that fundamentally it mitigates against decent work, especially work creation as well as standards
[5:18]  johninnit Ni: in what ways?
[5:18]  DaveWoW Muggins: well possibly this is a point of divergence with unions in Europe
[5:19]  DaveWoW Muggins: because we feel that – and have some research coming out in a month – free trade is destroying job in absolute terms

Dave Tucker

[5:19]  Vaughan Vantelli: has WoW ever taken its message into the classroom to promote campaigns eg sweatshops?
[5:19]  DaveWoW Muggins: as well as privileging companies in terms of where they can move their operations around etc
[5:20]  DaveWoW Muggins: which means that organising is more difficult, especially when there are pools of cheap ;’flexible’ labour
[5:20]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes we do go into classrooms. in fact we are developing a resource pack right now. it has been a bit ad hoc up to now as we have only one outreach person who deals with unis and online (facebook etc) and festivals..
[5:21]  DaveWoW Muggins: hopefully it will be on our website in a couple of months, but we always have speakers available if that’s of interest – best thing to do is join our online community and then you get updates and can ask questions etc
[5:21]  Vaughan Vantelli: i’d be interested in that Dave… Uni Lecturer here…cheers for the advice
[5:21]  DaveWoW Muggins: excellent!
[5:22]  DaveWoW Muggins: did I answer the WDDW question?
[5:22]  Wotcher Tenk: Sure did. Thanks for that.
[5:22]  johninnit Ni: So where you mentioned friction with unions in Europe. how do you mean?
[5:23]  DaveWoW Muggins: the ETUC position is that ‘free trade’ agreements can create jobs and give advantage to EU workers, but that they must include social and environmental clauses to ensure decent work is created, not poor quality
[5:24]  Vaughan Vantelli: isn’t itthe old addage that some unions gain from these agreements and others lose? self interest inhibit ssolidarity
[5:24]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes but what’s intersting is that rights are being undermined in europe too
[5:24]  DaveWoW Muggins: look at the ECJ casaes in the last year
[5:25]  Vaughan Vantelli: for sure…eastern europe poses a big challenge to western EU
[5:25]  DaveWoW Muggins: the key is that actually the same neo-liberal agenda is working against workers in the interests of capital. so solidarity is essential
[5:25]  Vaughan Vantelli: agreed…short termism prevails too often though
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: its a challenge but surely we want all the workers to get fair treatment, not be played off against each other
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: if we see them as taking our jobs etc, then we fall into the trap set by business
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: rah!
[5:26]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes agreed, but I think decent work is a useful concept in this debate
[5:26]  Vaughan Vantelli: definately but Full Time Officers dont always think that way…we need stronger membership aware of these issues and influencing bargaining agendas
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: agreed. all campaiging starts with education and awareness raising
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: the unions have enormous and progressive memkbership so if we can link up effectively we have a huge opportunity
[5:27]  You: how do you see NGOs like yourselves and unions working together? War On Want are a very fast moving organisation, whilst unions move more slowly (democratically, but slowly)
[5:27]  DaveWoW Muggins: especially in the current climate favourable to legislation
[5:28]  DaveWoW Muggins: partly its about getting actions around the union members. so we currently have a postcard and an online action on our website (in the next week)
[5:28]  DaveWoW Muggins: partly its about pressure on union-sponsored MPs and MEPs, and fundamentally making the case that people and rights matter, not just rights for companies to make profit

Dave Tucker

[5:29]  Vaughan Vantelli: draft motions are always useful for members to put to branch meetings
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes I am working on that too, i know the deadlines are near
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: if anyone wants to put something forward themselves, please do and let me know
[5:29]  DaveWoW Muggins: also branches can affiliate to War on Want
[5:30]  johninnit Ni: do many do that?
[5:30]  DaveWoW Muggins: I’d have to check but I think its certainly dozens
[5:31]  Vaughan Vantelli: I know a number of UNISON branches do and I think they are affiliated nationally
[5:31]  Vaughan Vantelli: my union the EIS is too
[5:31]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes. sorry not quite up on that, but you can ask our union officer Jackie Simpkins
[5:35]  johninnit Ni: we have a few mins left before Dave is off to RL events
[5:35]  johninnit Ni: are there any more questions people would like to throw in?
[5:36]  johninnit Ni: Dave – what do you think of the potential for WDDW itself?
[5:36]  johninnit Ni: is there value in continuing this idea of reaching out for unions? it’s raising a fair bit of awareness around the world
[5:37]  johninnit Ni: sometimes in strange ways! in Bulgaria they’re driving with their full beam headlights on to mark the day!
[5:37]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes definitely. if we have a global problem we need a global response
[5:37]  DaveWoW Muggins: that goes back to what we were saying about not allowing ‘divide and conquer’
[5:37]  johninnit Ni: so there is a natural link you feel between poverty campaigners and unions – because of the principle of solidarity
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: yes. we are progressive forces I’d like to think
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: and although we work in different ways, we are both fundamentally about dignity and rights
[5:38]  DaveWoW Muggins: that’s got to be worth something!
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: Thanks Dave
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: that’s a very good note to end on
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: :)
[5:39]  Vaughan Vantelli: cheers Dave….
[5:39]  DaveWoW Muggins: thanks everyone
[5:39]  Erdenesaikhan Eel: Thank you Dave
[5:39]  Wotcher Tenk: Tah
[5:39]  johninnit Ni: I hope this is somethign that can grow year on year, to make more of the global links to deal with the global problem.

© Trades Union Congress 2007