Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 1 2003, page 83-90.
English resume

Not one, but many globalisations

Bent Gravesen

The article discusses new forms of trade union solidarity in the light of different forms of globalisation. The process of economic globalisation is not uniform, but a process with many dimensions and different kinds of logic. The process of economic globalisation is spreading from the sphere of financial transactions to the sphere of production. It means, that capital increasingly thinks globally, even when it acts locally. Capital gets new possibilities to ‘liberate’ it from local collective agreements, environment regulations, etc. This makes a change in class relations in favour of capital and disfavour of workers.

However, even though capital gains new possibilities to get away from local and national non-economic bindings, this trend is not the only tendency. At the same time, capital develops long-term dependence on ability to compete on specific local qualifications and resources. This means, that new conflicts of interests appears between short-term movement for lower wages and long-term investments in local competence.

The heterogeneous process of globalisation makes the different strategic answers to these possibilities increasingly important for the management of enterprises, and the strategy chosen has important consequences for the employees.

This gives an opportunity for the trade union representatives to get involved in the process of developing management strategies and during this process take care of the interests of the trade union members. This redefines the arena of negotiation, collaboration and struggle. New threats and possibilities and new kinds of class compromises arises.

At the same time a new kind of solidarity is developing. The flight of capital challenges workers, local communities and sometimes even national interests. The spontaneous answer to this development is a fight for the local interests, where trade unions collaborate with local social movements. This provides a social basis for a new kind of trade union activity as a fight for social and environmental sustainability, where trade unions collaborate with different social movements.

However, with multinational corporations is it not possible to defend the local interests only by local protests. It is necessary to create solidarity between local workers, local social movements and workers in other parts of the multinational corporation. This solidarity does not follow the old formula of international workers solidarity: ‘your enemy is our enemy. Your struggle is our struggle’. The article suggests a new formula of this solidarity, transnational trade union struggle and social movements: ‘Think locally - act globally’. The article provodes examples of this new solidarity.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt