- SAFEGUARDING INTERESTS IN A WORLD WITHOUT FRONTIERS
|A great many important
decisions are made nowadays in supranational institutions such as the European Commission,
the European Central Bank, the boards of multinational enterprises and the G-8 summit
meetings of the leading industrialised countries. This may engender a sense of
powerlessness in trade union activists and other concerned citizens.
In spite of this, I claim that the prospects for ordinary people to influence matters have even increased. This understanding is mainly based on the fact that there is nowadays a quite unprecedented amount of information on global affairs within reach of most people. The more easily large numbers of people may draw parallel conclusions from this and act together accordingly, the more this empowers them to influence the direction of progress.
This optimism also draws on the fact that even the most powerful multinational enterprises and other elements of international capital are not immune to pressure. People around the world can influence these forces in many roles: as employees, as consumers and as public activists.
The prospects for setting up global pressure movements on various issues are improved by the increasingly close links between the futures of people in the industrialised and developing countries. Over a longer perspective we can see the increasingly common interests of people in the North and in the South. This creates a basis for common action.
Support for people in undeveloped regions is no longer merely a matter of solidarity. When helping the people of developing countries, those in the affluent world also assist themselves. this is due to the increasingly close interdependency, both positive and negative, of various parts of the world.
Activists nowadays must consider many more factors than was formerly the case. Besides local and national factors, collective bargaining also has a strong international dimension in the modern order.
Over the last few decades the mainstream of world economic development has adhered to a doctrine of neo-liberalism. This seeks to make people believe that increasing the freedom of movement of capital and enriching the wealthy offers the most effective way of improving the lot of the underprivileged. In practise, however, such a doctrine does not lead to universal welfare but rather exacerbates relations between various social groupings and nations and increases the agony and public restlessness of the worst off in society.
Instead of a "race for the bottom rung" that undermines the status of working people, we demand real progress towards equality.
The alternative is a policy that defends the achievements of working people in the industrialised countries while strengthening the struggle for better working and living conditions in the third world. It includes the principles of common responsibility, democracy and equal respect for human dignity. Adequate provision of good quality public services provides one answer to these demands. This is a strategic principle of the Trade Union for the Municipal Sector KTV and of the Finnish trade union movement as a whole.
In publishing the book "Everything at Stake" KTV seeks to promote discussion of globalisation and its consequences. The ongoing change demands renewal of international collective bargaining by the trade union movement.
The publication of this book on the Internet also testifies to our efforts to open up new channels for dialogue.
Introduction by Jouni Riskilä, President of the Trade Union for the Municipal Sector - KTV