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Power of Unions

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This right here shows how much power unions can have in America and how they should act in politically charged situations. Regarding the shipment of Chinese weapons to the dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe through the Durban port in South Africa the Times (South Africa) reported:

Opposition to a shipment of arms being offloaded in Durban and transported to Zimbabwe increased today when South Africa’s largest transport workers union announced that its members would not unload the ship.

SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) general secretary Randall Howard said: “Satawu does not agree with the position of the South African government not to intervene with this shipment of weapons.

“Our members employed at Durban Container Terminal will not unload this cargo neither will any of our members in the truck driving sector move this cargo by road.” He said the ship, the An Yue Jiang, should not dock in Durban and should return to China.

This reminds me when I asked Hossam his views about unions in America and he pretty much hit it on the button when he said:

“I was disgusted…Activism here in the labor circles is trapped in ‘legalism.’ What is legal…All of the strikes in Egypt were illegal; the bloggers were getting information by illegal means…Labor activists [in the U.S.] were talking about legalism and parliamentary politics” and kissing ass to the Democratic party. “There is a saying in the Arab world, ‘The Republicans, they fuck us. The Democrats, they fuck us with a smile.’…Heavy dependence on electorialism” and dependence on the Democrats and “on legal law.”

Legalism is definitely one of my criticisms of unions here in America. The legal system has such a conservatizing affect on unions and instead of going for the interests of their workers they try to curtail the militant interests of the workers and rank-and-file labor organizers to be in line with elitist law. Yet, here, Satawu taking a gamble and refusing to unload cargo that by all intents and purposes should be going to Zimbabwe; you essentially have a union “meddling in international affairs.”

But because of this, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa) latter reported:

A ship that was carrying weapons and ammunition destined for Zimbabwe lifted anchor and sailed from Durban less than an hour after the Durban High Court ordered that its controversial cargo cannot be transported across South Africa to that country.

Keep on keeping on sisters and brothers (and fellow unionists) at the Satawu!

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  1. Power of Unions « The Ghost of Tom Joad

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