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A labour perspective on corporate globalization


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This is a brief overview of some of the concerns expressed in the labour movement, by NGOs and other progressive organizations about the present model of corporate (or neoliberal) globalization.

This is a brief overview of some of the concerns expressed in the labour movement, by NGOs and other progressive organizations about the present model of corporate (or neoliberal) globalization.

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  • 1. A School of Labour Workshop Maureen Hynes & Kathryn Payne
  • 2. Outcomes Understand the evolution of “free trade” Recognize and describe the effects, particularly local effects, of free trade Identify the range of opposition strategies in place around the world Be familiar with further resources on free trade & globalization
  • 3. Defining globalization Globalization is the world-wide integration of finance, markets, production and the management of labour. It is a process by which large corporations extend their domination of resources, markets and labour… … facilitated by governments and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization.
  • 4. Origins of Free Trade deals Post World War II: 1945 meeting at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to set up World Trade Organization (WTO) First purpose was to rebuild Europe Later -- loans to developing countries for infrastructure & militarization High levels of interest charged to countries in economic south
  • 5. Context for current situation Free trade deals enormously protested (Seattle ’99, Quebec 2001, etc) Failure of free trade deals because of opposition by developing countries (e.g. WTO) Country-to-country deals (i.e. Canada and Columbia) Secret negotiations, inaccessible trade tribunals, undemocratic processes “Atlantica” and “TILMA” (Trade, Investment, Labour Mobility Agreement) Now, North American“Integration”….
  • 6. “Deep integration”Security and Prosperity Partnership signed by Bush (U.S), Fox (Mexico) & Martin (Canada) in 2005 with little publicity Focused on “harmonizing” security, trade, economic and resource policies Massive standardization of health care and environmental standards (cuts out 400 environmental laws) Allows the 3 countries to negotiate as one bloc in the WTO “We’re becoming a bloc, like the EU, but without the safety standards” (Barlow)
  • 7. But… There’s been no consultation, no public debate -- not passed by Parliament It’s “a continental resource pact” -- electricity, gas, oil, water, food safety, regulation of toxic substances Furthers the loss of control of our resources (like softwood lumber) Pushes towards privatization of health care Compatible immigration security measures (i.e. sharing Canadian’s data with US security) The North American Competitiveness Council (made-up of 10 CEO’s) has been asked to reduce the 300 recommendations to 30 workable ones
  • 8. Some key componentsof corporate globalization Privatization Deregulation Tax cuts  then cuts to social services, health care, education Downward pressure on prices Security and military expenses Easy movement of capital, but  Restrictions on movement of people (migrant workers = commodity)
  • 9. DeregulationReduces the number of laws covering safety issues for consumers and eases regulations for how industries do their work Water – Walkerton Cdn Food Inspection Agency & US FDA Drug safety – Cdn Health Protection Branch Federal Protections for Canadian Wildlife Aviation safety CanCon rules for satellite radio Canadian Auto Pact (between US & Japanese mfrs) signed in 1965, ended by WTO in 2000 Backing away from Kyoto Accord Tuition fees deregulated!
  • 10. Privatization(Publically-funded and run resources are transferred to the private, for-profit sector)In Ontario there are now 25 “P3” (public- private partnership) hospitals A U.S. corporation built and ran a P3 superjail in Penetanguishene for 5 years – study compared it to publicly-run jail found public jail had better security, health care and reduced re-offending rates. Huge concerns about water being privatized
  • 11. Cuts to services Employment insurance (from 75% of workers covered in 1990 to only 37% in 2000) Cuts to social assistance School Board cuts Cuts to federal funding for literacy programs (9 million in Can. need literacy help) Eliminate national childcare program Wildlife protection cuts, Sept 07
  • 12. Downward pressureon prices Subsidies to farmers in the U.S. leads to “dumping” of corn in Mexico Slate mining in China and Newfoundland The Wal-Mart policy for suppliers “Race to the bottom” for labour costs – Increasing numbers of low-wage jobs
  • 13. Security &military spending Permanent residents’ card with computer chips Biometrics – voice, eyes, fingerprints New role for Canadian military Increased investment in military hardware and war
  • 14. Regulation of movement of people Guestworkers – a growing global presence (2003 ILO estimates: 120 million worldwide) India, Mexico, the Philippines: “remittance” economies Not just agricultural workers, but also nursing homes, semi-skilled trades But removing benefits and legal protections for them (e.g., unions)
  • 15. Corporate Globalization Links Corporate monitoring: Corporate Watch: monitors corporations actions, labour conditions and policies McSpotlight: critical of McDonalds and its clones Philosophy behind Corporate Globalization: Neoliberalism: very detailed, interesting take on what neoliberalism is Re: the Trilateral Commission (international business interests): a bit extreme, but with good links Global Financial Institutions and Agreements pushing neoliberalism: The Global Exchange: great US-based information on WTO, IMF and WB, Trade Agreements The Bretton Woods Project: critical of World Bank
  • 16. Alternatives to CorporateGlobalization Alliance for Responsible Trade: information on A People’s Trade Agreement Canadian NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations): Council of Canadians: non-governmental trade watchdog Maquila Solidarity Network: works to improve conditions for workers in maquiladoras Kairos: Ecumenical social justice organization Inter Pares: Canadian social justice/development organization Common Frontiers: Canadian coalition that works around trade issues in the Americas Labour: Canadian Labour Congress: umbrella organization of Canadian unions