trade unions and globalization : a caribbean workers' education

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  • Trade Unions and Globalization

    A Caribbean Workers Education Guide

    Robert L. Morris

    International Labour Office - Caribbean

  • Copyright International Labour Organization 2002First published 2002

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    Morris, R

    Trade Unions and Globalization

    - A Caribbean Workers Education Guide

    Port of Spain, International Labour Office, 2002

    ISBN: 92-2-113504-7

    The designations employed in ILO publications, which are in conformity with United Nationspractice, and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International Labour Office concerning the legal status of any country, area or territory or of its authorities,or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers.

    The responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles, studies and other contributions rests solely with their authors, and thepublication does not constitute an endorsement by the International Labour Office of the opinion expressed in them.

    Reference to names of firms and commercial products and processes does not imply their endorsement by the International LabourOffice, and any failure to mention a particular firm, commercial product or process is not a sign of disapproval.


    For further information on how to obtain this publication, write to the ILO Caribbean Office, P. O. Box 1201, Portof Spain, Trinidad and Tobago or e-mail: Website:

    Catalogues and lists of recent and forthcoming ILO books are available free of charge from ILO Publications, International LabourOffice, CH-1211, Geneva 22, Switzerland, email:, or contact the ILO Caribbean Office.


    Printed in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

  • PrefacePrefacePrefacePrefacePreface

    Globalization and its effects on the developing Caribbean is aninescapable issue for trade unionists from the region as indeed it is fortrade unionists throughout the developing world. As a consequence,there has to be a clear understanding and appreciation at all levels ofthe trade union movement for what is involved in this phenomenon.

    Mr. Robert Morris, Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados WorkersUnion and its Director of Organization actively participated in the deliveryof Seminars in the ILO/DANIDA(International Labour Organization/DanishInternational Development Agency) Project for strengthening tradeunions in selected countries in the Caribbean. He was contracted toproduce this Manual as an output from the Project.

    Funding for the printing of this Manual was co-shared by the WorkersActivities Bureau (ACTRAV) of the ILO and by PROMALCO (Programmefor the Promotion of Labour/Management Cooperation) at the enterpriselevel a US Department of Labour Project which is being managed bythe ILO Caribbean Office.

    This Manual, a useful addition to the many volumes that have alreadybeen written on globalization, has attempted the unique task ofcapturing, through a user-friendly approach, the development ofglobalization and its main features. It has also attempted to identify apractical trade union response to globalization and challenges the usersof the Manual, through a series of exercises at the end of each chapter,to enquire further.

    This publication is one of a series of Workers Education Manuals thathave been developed under the guidance of Mr. Evelyn Greaves, SeniorSpecialist, Workers Activities and produced by the ILO Caribbean Office.

    Mr. Willi Momm, the Director, ILO Caribbean Office (19972002) gaveevery encouragement possible for the development of the series.

    Luis RegueraDirector a.i.ILO Caribbean Office


  • Preface iii

    Introduction 1

    Module 1 - Historical Context 2

    Module 2 - From GATT to WTO 9

    Module 3 Regional Integration 15

    Module 4 - Features and Impact of Globalization 21

    Module 5 - The Trade Union Response 25

    Bibliography 29



  • IntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIntroductionIntroduction

    The globalization process is extremely dynamic. No text can capturethe rapidly changing issues, the new economic environment, the disputesand the results of meetings which are taking place constantly.

    At the core of the process, however, are a few fundamental issues,institutions, relationships and a number of challenges which have to beunderstood by all trade unionists, at all levels.

    This manual seeks to respond to the need to present a tactical andstrategic response for trade unions to address the core issues ofglobalization.

    Special thanks must be given to Mr Willi Momm, former Director and MrEvelyn Greaves, Senior Specialist Workers Activities, of the ILOCaribbean Office for their assistance in developing the module. Mr LeRoyTrotman, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union has beensympathetic and helpful in encouraging the work. Many students acrossthe Caribbean have been helpful in responding to the early material thatformed the basis of the model. Ms Coreen Gibson helped to type muchof the material. Thanks are due to my immediate family for theirconsideration and support.

    This manual was tested at a Meeting/Workshop for the Final Evaluationof the ILO/DANIDA Project for Strengthening Trade Unions in SelectedCaribbean Countries, which was held in Guyana in December 2001.Special thanks for the insights offered by all workshop participants butparticularly to Brother Steen Christensen, General Secretary of the DanishTrade Union Council for International Development Cooperation and toBrother Neils Enevoldsen, from the Workers Education Branch of theILO in Geneva.


  • The term globalization is now occupying center stage in contemporaryeconomic, social and political discourse. It is being projected as aphenomenon which has grave portents for the continued existence of thetrade union movement and it is therefore necessary that the members oftrade unions, including the rank and file, have a clear appreciation of itsmeaning and implications.

    The term has only recently been popularized, and there is a sense that thephenomenon has suddenly become an issue in academic, intellectual andpopular discourse. It may well be true to say that prior to the 1990s,Caribbean trade unionists would not have focused significantly onglobalization as a phenomenon in their teachings or even in their strategizingand planning on behalf of their membership. Yet, to the extent that emphasiswas placed on explaining the economic history of the region, and of theworld, in locating the birth and struggles of the trade union movement forexistence, emphasis would have been placed on describing the economicfoundations of globalization.

    No discussions on the growth and development of the trade unionmovement in the Caribbean should be disconnected from the economic

    Historical ContextttttModuleObjective

    To locate globalization as a continuing process.

    Globalization is essentially the process of integrating national andlocal markets into a single global market. Here the definition ofmarket encompasses not only that for goods and services, but alsothe capital and technology markets, and to a far more limited degree,the labour market. Local markets have been increasingly integratedinto the worldwide market with the rapid development oftransportation, communication and information technologies.




  • TTTTTrade Unions and Globalizationrade Unions and Globalizationrade Unions and Globalizationrade Unions and Globalizationrade Unions and Globalization

    forces which shaped the history of the region from the period of settlementin the 15th and 16th centuries. The reality is that the voyages of discoverywhich placed the Caribbean at the centre of world focus can be seen asthe beginning of a new phase of globalization directly connected to thecurrent phase.

    These voyages of discovery signaled the end of the middle ages and therise of the nation state and the advent of capitalism. The development ofcentral governments in the form of absolute monarchies, culminated in thepowerful autonomous nation state. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, signedbetween the leading nation states, became the cornerstone of the modernsystem of international relations, with the realization that nations could tradewith each other and make peace or war in an international system of statesin which each had its domestic sovereignty.

    National governments became competitors seeking to expand their powerthrough economic and military processes. Mercantalism became theprocess through whic


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