It might just have been because I had my ear to the ground, but while I was researching this magazine, it seemed to me that the world had gone on strike. News cycles in May and June were reporting workers on strike in Britain (junior doctors, transport), France (transport), Italy (teachers), Belgium (transport), New York (communications), Greece (farmers, transport), Brazil (taxi drivers)... the list went on. I, like many others, no doubt, cheered them on while keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be inconvenienced by their actions.
Then I realized that, though each group was protesting against a particular injustice, as a whole they represented our best bet against a corporate, globalized world gone mad. Workers don’t go on strike lightly – they know that they will sacrifice pay and may also lose public support, or their jobs, or, in some countries, their lives. They strike as a last resort – because governments and employers won’t listen and because, long-term, a lot is at stake if they don’t.
So next time my travel plans are disrupted, or my routine doctor’s appointment cancelled, I will be trying to rise above the irritation and remember that trade unionists are fighting not just for themselves, but for us all.
Also in this issue, Jo Eckersley and Ashwin Hemmathagama report from Sri Lanka on a country still struggling to unite seven years after the end of the civil war, and we meet Afghanistan’s inspirational ‘mother of education’, Sakena Yacoobi.
Jo Lateu for the New Internationalist co-operative.
Jo Lateu considers the state of the unions, and argues that a revival has already begun.
A cheer goes up every time a taxi driver honks his horn in solidarity. Passers-by stop to sign our petition and ask questions. A couple of well-heeled women hurry towards the hotel entrance, averting their eyes from the cluster of hospitality workers waving flags and chanting: ‘What do we want? Fair tips and a union! When do we want it? Now!’
We’re here on a busy London street, as the evening rush hour gridlocks the city, to support Robert, a Hungarian waiter at the luxury five-star Melia hot...
Unions can play a vital role in the battle for climate justice, says Anabella Rosenberg, Policy Officer for Health and Environment at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Here she talks about growing awareness in the global labour movement and the challenges ahead.
Fighting climate change requires organization rather than individual actions, founder of 350.org Bill McKibben told this year’s Greenbelt festival's audience. Joe Ware reports.
Moscow has opened the first criminal case for an alleged violation of its widely criticized ‘Foreign Spy’ law against civil-society activist Valentina Cherevatenko. Erin Kilbride reports.