Home » Workshop – Trade unions, free trade and the problem of transnational solidarity.

Workshop – Trade unions, free trade and the problem of transnational solidarity.

Resistance against free trade agreements has increased since the demonstrations at the WTO ministerial conference in Seattle in 1999. Positions by trade unions on free trade agreements are, however, ambiguous. While trade unions in the North especially in manufacturing have supported free trade agreements to secure export markets for ‘their’ companies, trade unions in the Global South oppose these agreements, since they often imply deindustrialisation. Academics, trade union researchers and social movement activists met in a two-day workshop, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at the School of Politics and International Relations/University of Nottingham, on 2 and 3 December 2011 to discuss these issues in detail. The purpose of the workshop was to understand better the dynamics underlying free trade as well as explore possibilities for transnational solidarity between labour movements in the North and South. The papers of the workshop can be downloaded below:


Panel 1 – Conceptual and methodological considerations
Samir Amin – The implosion of global capitalism and the challenge for the radical left.
Barry Gills – The multiple crises in present world order and responses with a particular focus on free trade.
Andreas Bieler and Adam David Morton – Uneven and combined development and unequal exchange: the second wind of neoliberal ‘free trade’.
Andy Higginbottom – ‘Imperialist rent’ in practice and theory.


Panel 2 – Free trade and particular sectors
Mònica Clua-Losada – Trading solidarity: dockworkers and the EU liberalisation of port services.
Salimah Valiani – Temporary migration and the global integration of nursing labour markets: the US American instance. [Published in Salimah Valiani (2012) Rethinking Unequal Exchange: the global integration of nursing labour markets (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).]


Panel 3 – European trade unions and free trade
Roland Spånt – Swedish trade unions and the question of free trade.
John Hilary – European trade unions and free trade: between international solidarity and perceived self-interest.


Panel 4 – Free trade negotiations
Teresa Healy – Canadian, Québécois and European unions and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations.
Mi Park – The ASEAN-China FTA and its implications for the global economy.


Panel 5 – Free trade and the Global South
Cheikh Tidiane Dieye –  African countries and free trade policies.
Luciana Hachmann – COSATU and South Africa’s free trade policy.
Amanda Latimer – The Free Trade Area of the Americas in the Long Crisis of Brazilian Labour: lessons for building North-South responses to the current crisis.
Rob Lambert – Free trade and the new labour internationalism.



The workshop was supported by a small British Academy research grant of £6960 (SG102043) as well as a grant of £1750 by the University of Nottingham priority group Integrating Global Society.

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