I’m currently bogged down in reading for the next weekend at Ruskin College. It’s just a few days away and will involve 2 and a half days of lectures. I also have minutes to write for the last SERTUC International Committee, a pile of admin, an essay to write plus more writing on the fledgling Civil Service Rank and File Network. It’s going to be a busy start to the year!
Despite all that I fancied blogging as it helps to get things in order in my head. The programme for the weekend at Ruskin looks great. This will be our 3rd workshop and will look at “Crisis and renewal: Labour movement organisational change and internationalism”. The amount of paperwork to read in readying for this is astonishing but on the whole it seems to be very useful stuff. I’m particularly interested in the various labour movement groups outside of unions and how they help or hinder the wider struggle. How they interact with unions needs to be understood if they and unions are to travel in the same direction. How fast they travel in comparison is also something I find fascinating. Union structures can really slow things down and it isn’t because they are democratic, quite the opposite at times. Some of these groups are using direct democracy and yet move startlingly fast.
The SERTUC International Committee had a really good speaker from Venezuela last time around. We were able to discuss recent pro-union laws in the country and how the oil revenues have been used redistribute wealth, increase health and introduce education to the masses. There’s no austerity – maybe that’s why it’s only on the news if Chavez is ill or being dictatorial. Apparently all primary school children get a laptop to keep. That’s amazing.
Following this weekend I have to finish the first assignment of the MA. I’m writing about the reasons for trade union decline and the possibilities for revival placing emphasis on the use of new technology (meaning the internet). I need to do so much more reading on this subject so I’m looking forward to getting into the library at the weekend. I’m also heading to Oxford early as I’ve been voted the student rep for the course and I need to meet with the Principal. In the trade union movement it’s never a good idea to leave the room because you never know what elections are taking place in your absence!
The Civil Service Rank and File Network started a few months back and has already had quite an impact on the PCS union. It’s not a faction seeking election but hopefully will develop into a strong voice within the union to press for action. A conference is being planned to see where it can be taken next.
Hopefully in the next 48 hours I will have gotten my head around all this stuff a bit further!