GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

Day 7 – back in Jo’burg and final day

Written by Harald Kröck

On the last day for most of us in S.A. we went back by bus early in the morning from the lodge to Jo’burg. All GLU Alumni participants were invited to join the workshop „Trade Unions and University Education: a Colloquium of Numsa Social Theory and GLU Alumni“, at WITS Club, WITS University (click here for the programme).

Arriving there around 11 am we were just in time for Panel II “Personal stories linking social theory and experiences beyond the course”.

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Solidarity Message from the Global Labour University’s Alumni Summer School in Support of Free Education in South Africa

7 October 2016

The Global Labour University’s Summer School held from 2 – 7 October 2016 considered the unfolding struggle by students in South Africa for free quality education. This struggle comes after similar struggles in the United Kingdom, Germany and Chile.

In 2015 in the aftermath of the Marikana Massacre something shifted inexorably at South African universities. Students protested against institutions’ language policies, high fees, structural inequalities and colonial symbols. It was working-class youth who are in the forefront of the struggle. The victory in favour of insourcing at the universities is a monumental advance during a period when the working class is on the defensive.

The Global Labour University’s Summer School 2016 supports the demands of the students for free quality education and we encourage the developing relationship between the students, academic staff, the labour movement and broader society. We believe that building such alliances will assist in the transformation towards a just society.

Amandla! Awethu!

GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

Day 6 – the last day at the game lodge

Written by Harald Kröck

On our last day at the lodge, we started with the same sessions than on the day before.

However, the persons who joined the MOOC session switched to the GLC session and the other way around. Only the group which worked on the „Comparative Project on organizing the unorganisable“ continued it’s discussion with the same participants.

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GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

The penultimate day! 

Written by Dale Forbes, South Africa and Helen Russell, UK.

The time has gone so fast and already the GLU summer school has reached its penultimate day. The focus of today was very much activity orientated, in that students participated in groups that discussed practical opportunities to get involved in GLU work projects.

The three groups were;

  • Global Labour Column- led by Mbuso Nkosi, Nicolas Pons-Vignon and Helen Russell
  • The GLU MOOC- led by Tandiwe Gross
  • Comparative Project on organizing the unorganisable-the difficulties workers face to establish or join a union – led by Edlira Xbafa and Eddie Webster.

Today’s bloggers attended the session on the Global Labour Column which looks at new ways to promote and disseminate the Column. Participants also volunteered to write articles and source articles from their networks. It was agreed that there should be a themed series of Columns and the next one will be on global student movements. It was also agreed to try and get more volunteers to translate articles and that this should start with trying to establish a group who can regularly translate articles into Portuguese.

Following the workshops many people took the opportunity of a free period to enjoy a swim in the refreshing waters of the river on the lodge.


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GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

Day 4 (written by Helen Russell, UK)

The day started with three parallel sessions:

  • Using research as an outreach, awareness and organizing tool-Eddie Webster, WITS University
  • Researching Global Supply Chains-Mark Anner, Penn State University
  • Efficient networking, campaigning, using new media and reaching beyond traditional structures-Charley Lewis-LINK Centre, WITS

I chose to attend the session on research as an organizing tool facilitated by Eddie Webster from WITS University as I felt it was something that I could use in my work for the trade union movement in the UK. The workshop started with an exploration of the difference between academic and action research and then focussed further on action research methods. Eddie presented the difference between horizontal and vertical mapping. Vertical mapping refers to researching the chain of production linking homeworkers, subcontractors, intermediaries, buyers and brand owners. In contrast horizontal mapping is a method that researches the characteristics of the worker, their location, industry/sector by researching individuals in their place of work. The group then discussed how we could apply horizontal research methods to union work, focussing on organising domestic workers in South Africa. The group ended the session by singing the song, “My mother was a kitchen girl, my father was a garden boy, that’s why I’m a unionist, I’m a unionist, I’m a unionist”.


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GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

Day 3 (written by Freda S. Frimpong)

The day started with two syndicate groups. The topics were: The economic and politics of the struggle for Minimum Wages; the case of South Africa, by Gilad Isaacs & Hansjoerg Herr and New Trade agreements (TTIP, CETA, TISA) by Christoph Scherrer.

Christoph Scherrer gave an update on the progress of the free trade negotiations. He highlighted that the agenda for free trade agreements has been moved from protecting the infant industries to protecting corporations and investors. One major concern is the Investor to State Dispute Settlement process. There was then an alumni group discussion which explored the following areas:

  • Updates in negotiations e.g. Germany, France versus TTIP,
  • The impact of the potential political shift in the US post-election
  • Social clauses
  • Relationship between the different treaties,
  • The role of the WTO

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GLU Alumni Summer School 2016

Day 2 (written by Angélica Jara)

After our first night in the African Savanna, all session started early with three groups discussions and I had the chance to Participate in two of them.

bild-1The first one was on: Trade Unions and Energy Democracy, guided by Maite Llanos from Argentina and Devan Pillay from South Africa. Maite started talking about the history of the Energy Democracy initiative, which has its origins in the union through the area of health and safety in the workplace. Then she talked about the Brazilian experience with mineworkers on the rubber mines and the union leader Chico Mendes. We spoke also of the process from Rio’s Earth Summit in 1992 to the 2021 Agenda. Then the debate explored the link between the Just Transition statement where the workers should be taken into consideration, and the question after the Paris Convention, which is: ENERGY FOR WHAT, WHY AND FOR WHOM?. To the question of SOCIAL ENERGY beyond just public energy.

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