GLU Alumni Summer School 2018 in Brazil

Day 4 – Wednesday, 15th August!

By Moulshri Kanodia, India

The last day of the ‘Alumni Applied Research School’ started with a thought stimulating presentation followed by an enriching discussion by Simone Claar (University of Kassel, Germany) on ‘Climate Change/Renewable Energy and Labour’. The discussion entailed exchange of ideas and strategies that trade unionists, labour activists and academicians should undertake to address the questions of ‘Green’ jobs in the future. How can trade unions play an active role in transforming workplaces and securing decent work in sustainable future.

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Summer school participants 2018

The second morning session was organized by Ana Paula Melli, Cyntia Machado, Mirodrag Pantovic and Paulo Malerba where they introduced the group to the trade union movement in Brazil with a case study of CUT Brazil and the political atmosphere in the country with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (from Partido dos Trabalhadores; The Workers’ Party) in prison on framed corruption charges and the next election scheduled in October 2018. It was an interesting discussion with the group chipping in with their experiences of similar neo-liberal political forces in their home countries and providing a way forward. Continue reading


GLU Alumni Summer School 2018 in Brazil

Day 3 – Tuesday, 14th August!

By Harald Kröck, Germany

In the morning of day 3 of the summer school, participants could chose to attend one of the following three parallel workshops:

  1. GLU MOOCs – Using Online Tools for Local Partners (lead by Prof. Stefanie Lorenzen from Berlin School of Economics and Law)
  2. Financial actors squeeze the supply chains. Lets go beyond the brands and start targeting finance (lead by Prof. Christoph Scherrer from Kassel University)
  3. Organizing Methods for Trade Unions (lead by GLU alumni Rebeca Pabon, Rairis Martins & Kristen Schumacher, who all work in this field professionally).

After lunch we tried out for the first time during a summer school a new format: a simulation game.

Participants have been randomly allocated to 5 different groups, acting in the fields of the labour movement, business, political sphere or as individual workers.

On the basis of a fictitious (but realistic) tragic event (many workers died due to a fire in a factory of the garment sector in Thailand), participants could learn and practice to develop and enforce positions, demands, arguments, counter-arguments, strategies etc. for interacting in respective negotiations with their opponents.

This worked out quite well and participants strongly recommended to include this format in future summer schools as well.

Day 3 ended quite late with informal talks, drinks, music, dancing and a lot of fun for the participants at the farewell party.

GLU Alumni Summer School 2018 in Brazil

Day 2 – Monday, 13th August!

By Ajay Kumar, India

Excursion to an indigenous tribe

After the breakfast, everyone gathered outside the hotel to visit the Guarani Tribe. The trip was organized by local trade union CUT.

The Guarani were one of the first peoples contacted after Europeans arrived in South America around 500 years ago. In Brazil, there are today around 51,000 Guarani living in seven states, making them the country’s most numerous tribe. Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and 

The Guarani people in Brazil are divided into three groups: Kaiowá, Ñandeva and M’byá, of which the largest is the Kaiowá which means ‘forest people’. They are a deeply spiritual people. Most communities have a prayer house, and a religious leader, whose authority is based on prestige rather than formal power.

It took 30 minutes by car to reach the tribal area, we were greeted by the leader of this tribal village. The leader organized the welcome ceremony and we all sang and danced.

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This village has a population of 65 people, and they mostly grow tomatoes, potatoes and bananas. They go to the city market on weekly basis to get the necessary provisions.

The tribal people displayed the handicraft, jewellery and other items for sale. After the shopping and discussion with the villagers, we all went for a 40-50 minutes trekking in the nearby jungle to see the flora and fauna of the surrounding. We were told there is an ongoing struggle to protect the forest area from the outsiders.

After the trek, all of us gathered at prayer hall of the village and they prayed for peace and prosperity.

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GLU Alumni Summer School 2018 in Brazil

Day 1 – Sunday, 12th August!

By David O’Connell, United Kingdom

The alumni summer school started off today in the beautiful Salvetti Praia hotel. After exploring the local beach and surrounding areas the alumni convened in the convention center to discuss the days events. The summer school broke into four workshops, discussing increasing involvement in the Global Labour Column, Organising women workers, minimum wages and inequality, and researching global supply chains.

The first part of our alumni general meeting discussed the allocation of funds to emergency requests. Inspired by the amazing success of our solidarity fund raffle at the conference which raised around 350 euros, it was agreed that we would work to support similar initiatives at the upcoming conferences and workshops, as well as looking into using paypal/croudsourcing to raise money for particular cases. we tabled the election of representatives for the following meeting, but left the room with a sense of optimisim that we would soon be raising serious

After lunch, professor Christoph Scherrer provided a summary of the history, structure, and current situation of the Global Labour University, from its first inception in 2001 to its realization in 2004. The summer school heard about the diversification of funding which will be sought over the coming years and participants began to propose future avenues for support within their own personal networks.

Following on from a presentation of the research projects made yesterday, the school engaged in an enthusiastic discussion about possible research projects. An astonishing 12 proposals were made, eventually reduced to 10. Themes proposed stretched from analyzing trade union responses to changes in labour legislation, to precarious labour and the minimum wage in South Africa.

All in all, the day was extremely thought provoking, informative, and energizing, but more importantly; practical. Solid ideas and proposals came out for building the strength of the GLU and using our resources to advance the labour struggle. Everyone is looking forward to the next few days.


GLU Alumni Summer School 2017

Day 5 – The final day!

By David O’Connell, United Kingdom

The day began with participants breaking into three groups to discuss;

  • The Global Labour Column and other GLU networking opportunities, facilitated by Helen Russell, UK
  • GLU online courses and the new MOOC on Fair Wage Strategies in a global Economy, facilitated by Tandiwe Gross, Switzerland
  • Collaborating and developing new joint research projects, which was a student led workshop.

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Pics: Discussing future projects

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GLU Alumni Summer School 2017

Day Four – The Penultimate Day!

By Prakashnee Govender, South Africa

Day four of the summer school began like most, with warm weather coupled with lively chats over a mostly spicy breakfast. Despite the intense partying social networking (!) from the previous night, most participants were able to dive right into the first activities of the day, which began with two parallel sessions:

  • The right to strike in law and practice, with Reingard Zimmer of the Berlin School of Economics and Law.
  • Community (UNITE case study) and informal economy organising, with Helen Russell, GLU Alumni from the UK and Sudhir Katiyar of the Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action in India.

I attended the session on community and informal economy. While both presentations focused on innovative organising methods, the contexts, challenges and approaches could not have been more diverse.

Helen outlined the community organising model adopted by UNITE, the largest union in the UK. UNITE’s community section has recruited nearly 10,000 community members who are not in employment, thereby unifying workplace with community struggles. Services provided include legal support, jobs search and welfare counselling. There have also been various campaigns including on housing, anti-racism and austerity. Continue reading

GLU Alumni Summer School 2017

Summer School Day 3: Meeting the workers!

By Johanna Lauber, Germany

The third day of Summerschool was a special day: with the help of local students and unionists our summer school team had organized an excursion to meet protesting workers and union officials in the booming industrial area Gurgaon which has seen massive strikes and riots in the past years. If you want to find out more about Gurgaon and its workers’ struggles you can have a look at Gurgaon Workers News, a project that tries to not only connect workers in Gurgaon but also to inform the rest of the world about workers’ resistance in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

In less than an hour we were carried by bus from our peaceful countryside resort to the industrial town of Gurgaon which had little in common with my idea of a town. Huge modern buildings emerged out of dusty streets and construction zones and in between street vendors, tiny stores, workshops, and now and then a dog or a cow. The shiny facades had familiar names on it: Google, Deloitte, Hyundai and of course Maruti Suzuki. Maruti had been the first to open a car plant in the former agricultural region and also our first stop was related to Maruti Suzuki. Unionised workers of one of Maruti Suzuki’s subsidiaries, some of them working for the factory for more than 15 years, had illegally been defined as contract workers and were told that their contract won’t be renewed. These workers had been employed as exhaust manufacturers.

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