Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Toyota Strike

On the subject of labor solidarity...

After a long-running dispute with labor organizers in one of its plants in the Phillipines, during which Toyota fired over two hundred workers who attended a union meeting and several workers were arrested or injured by security forces, the auto giant ignored a decision by the Phillipines' Supreme Court and went ahead and set up a company-controlled union of its own.

Protests and petition drives have started in Australia, Ukraine, South Africa, Korea, Russia and elsewhere, with workers pressuring Japanese embassies in the hope that the Japanese government will rein in its company (see the articles IMF Affiliates Plan Mass Mobilizations for September 12 from the International Metal Workers Federation and International Action Support Toyota Workers from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union).

Imagine if something like this happened over companies' actions in China. Or, one day, if Chinese workers went on strike for workers in another country!

It all seems far off, but that that is the kind of people-to-people cooperation that the human rights world should have as its model---not top-down, self-righteous pronouncements from Western governments and not industry and trade union protectionism hiding as "fair trade" morality.

The point is to be in the same boat, to think of problems as problems, not countries and cultures.

1 comment:

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