Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Unions and Democracy

"Unions need democracies and democracies need unions" says Abdullah Muhsin of the IFTU. In an arcticle over at LFIQ he writes
Trade union organizations are fundamental to the development of secure, prosperous and democratic societies. They are the bedrock of civil society. I strongly believe that a truly free and democratic society will not exist any where in the world without a democratic labour movement that can freely advocate and bargain for the interest of the working people. ‘The Union Makes Us Strong’ goes the old slogan. This is true but the ‘Us’ really refers not just to the union members but to the entire society. Democratic societies, not just workers, need free trade unions.
He ends with
We Iraqi democrats wish that the international community would put aside old disputes and rush to Iraq with the urgency and determination and zeal of the poor deluded Islamist fundamentalists who cross the border seeking martyrdom and bringing only death and misery.

Drafting a constitution, holding fresh elections, training new security forces: all these tasks are immense and require the wholehearted support of the international community. We can’t bear these burdens alone.

If democracy fails in Iraq the world will be picking up the pieces for the rest of our lifetimes. If democracy succeeds in Iraq then we may be on the verge of a world historic process of democratisation throughout the region. That is what is at stake in Iraq. It is the hinge of our time.
While Unions are not the solution to every problem and ,yes ,there is a trade union consciousness, they are an important fellow traveller on the road to socialism. Would anyone want to live in a world without free trade unions? Possibly unions with a wider remit than "trying to get a better deal for yourself, your work colleagues and perhaps for all wage and salary workers within capitalism" but still unions.

But it's important to remember that "unions are important for democracies and democracies are important for unions". Speaking technically, unions are a necessary but not sufficient condition for socialism.

Comments welcome.

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