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Influence of Virulent Nationalism on Proletarian Internationalism

This article aims to study the global trade union initiatives and their efforts besides understanding the journey of global union federations’ in wading through the forked challenges posed by globalisation on the one hand and nationalism on the other. It is not known if global union alliances are prepared to combat nationalism the way it engaged the global capital. Is the national labour movement getting enamoured and absorbed by the rising nationalism or is the independent labour movement that has gathered momentum after garnering support from transnational labour alliances getting weakened because of rising nationalism?

Internationalisation of capital and the emergence of global capital have spurred proletarian or labour internationalism. Rise of global unions embo­dies a counter-mechanism—if capital has gone global, so can the labour. Phillip Jennings of Union Network International (UNI Global Union), a global union federation (GUF) of service sector employees, notes, “global offshoring is a reality (but) we need global union alliances to ensure that workers’ rights are respected at home as well as other destinations” (2010). The pathway to a truly global ­labour movement is littered with calls for trade union internationalism. Richard Trumka of American Federation of ­Labor and Congress of Industrial Orga­nizations (AFL–CIO) highlights the need for unions with the “ability to confront corporate power wherever it rears its head, whether it is a call centre in Bangalore, a shoe factory in Vietnam or a coal mine in Columbia.” There is consensus amongst labour leaders that labour must go global, the way capital has grown worldwide.

While we are not undervaluing or ­underrating the significance of domestic/national labour unions in resisting the capitalist forces of globalisation, the ­basic premise of this article is explained by Evans (2014: 258), according to whom, organising in a particular nation or a multinational is possible only by transnational alliances. McCallum (2013) argues that “workers who have the support of a global campaign behind them are necessarily more powerful in facing down global corporations.” GUFs consist of one of the significant pathways to labour internationalism. GUFs, industry-based transnational lab­our institutions, representing millions of workers from dozens of countries (Stevis and Boswell 2008) seek to counteract the power of global capital through transnational campaigns and global collective bargaining. Proletarian internationalism mostly expanded in the period when George Packer’s idea (2016) of “rejecting globalisation was like rejecting sunrise” was doing rounds. It was the time when prevailing economic theories endorsed the merits of globalisation.

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Updated On : 8th Sep, 2020

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