International Conference to Challenge Corporate Power and Develop Alternative to Neoliberal Globalisation

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More than 120 delegates from around the world have gathered in Perth this week to develop an international approach to challenging the power of corporations, build alliances to promote the rights of working people, and advance alternatives to Neoliberal Globalisation.

The 10th Congress of the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) will focus on topics including attacks on the public sector through privatisation, service cuts and downsizing; challenging the power of global corporations; building international solidarity efforts; and developing concrete alternatives to neoliberalism.

Trade union representatives and intellectuals from Australia, Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific will also examine the lessons of past campaigns, including the international union response to Rio Tinto’s company-wide deunionisation policy in 1997.

Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Ian Bray (pictured above) said the conference would also see debate on the outcomes of the SIGTUR Futures Commission, which was held in Johannesburg in June 2013.

“SIGTUR brings together labour leaders and union-committed social scientists from the global south in an effort to construct a genuine alternative to Neoliberalism,” he said.

“Our goal is to promote fair trade instead of free trade, socially regulated financial markets, secure work contracts rather than insecure work, and a strong state protecting society and the environment from the power of global corporations.”

Mr Bray said the conference would include a detailed analysis of the global corporations operating in Australia and the region, including an examination of how they exercise their power against workers, governments, and the community.

“We will also be looking at how unions, both within Australia and internationally, can challenge this power through global networking and by linking with social movements,” Mr Bray said.

“This means examining the successes unions have had against the power of corporations, as well as the setbacks that have been faced by labour and social movements.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union assistant national secretary Glenn Thompson said the conference aimed to place working people back at the centre of economic policy.

“Our goal is to apply new forms of people-power to respond to the increasingly aggressive nature of corporations in our current neoliberal system, delivering justice and fairness for working people wherever they live,” Mr Thompson said.