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Username: Richard Flint
Date/Time: Sat, October 21, 2000 at 3:56 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Macintosh
Score: 5


         Since no-one else seems to have anything but praise for this
proposal, I am obligated to reply again.

Let us be clear about this proposal. We are not talking about the
growing and significant trade union presence on the internet, despite
the best efforts of international trade union bureaucrats, there is 
a vibrant workers presence on the web.

This proposal, which I have read and would strongly urge others to,
is about creating a restrictive and closed internet  domain that will
be administered by the ominous ICFTU “family” who will decide who is
“bona-fide” and who is not.

Most disturbing of all will be the automatic approval of any
organization already in the “family”. While it is true that these
organizations have wonderful constitutions that require internal
democracy and freedom, these documents are best compared to the old
USSR Constitution. Have a look for yourself at the list of

There are many significant “bona fide” union organizations who are
not members of the “family”. it is significant that this proposal is
not backed by anyone outside this group. Where is the European trade
union confederation (ETUC)? Europeans  affiliate a number of
organizations that are not members of the “family”. The largest union
in the country where the ICFTU is based, for example. The union
Confederation in Québec, the CSN, was refused admittance to the

Let us also be clear about who this “family” really is. The ICFTU is
an international federation of national trade union centres and the
industrial federations (ITSs) consist mostly of national
organizations. In the Anglo world, there is generally only one
national union organizations, but in many areas there are many
different national federations and local disputes are often organized
by diverse groups of workers from different groups or even none.

Yet this proposal will not help these people. There is often a
conflict between local strikers and the ICFTU family members. We all
know which side the new domain will be on. If there is a dispute
between a new local group and an existing family member, the proposal
is clear about who will prevail.

There is also a disturbing reference to respecting law. In many
countries, genuine trade union activity is illegal. In the country
where I live at the moment, England, trade union solidarity action is
illegal and trade unions can be stripped of their assets for
supporting striking members. In a recent example, dockers in
Liverpool were refused support from their own national organizations,
who happened to be good members of the ICFTU “family”. Nevertheless
these workers used the internet  to build international solidarity
action. I am sure that their web site would have been refused by the

The problem can occur almost anywhere and this proposal should not be
supported. It is also worth noting that this proposal cost someone
$50,000... When the Cold War was in full swing, the American
government gave the ICFTU lots of money and the Russians gave to the
WFTU. Clever people like the Nigerian Labour Congress got money from
both sides regularly, there were a lot of study trips to Moscow and
Washington. Now the money has gone. But  $50,000 could be used to
support connecting many trade unions to the web.

We should support the growing use of the internet  by trade unions
and other social campaigns and not be diverted by Cold War relics
like the ICFTU.


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