|A friend of mine who’s been working for 25 years on a shop floor in an Israeli factory summed up the historic signficance of Amir Peretz’s rise to power in the Labor Party. It doesn’t really matter all that much what happens in the general elections, he told me. By raising the issues of poverty and social injustice, by compelling all politicians — including Sharon — to address those issues, Amir Peretz has aleady won.
A generation ago, Israel was known as a country where social class barely existed. The first person I knew who visited the country back in 1971 came back elated. “There is no bourgeoisie in Israel,” he told me. It was a slight exaggeration — but only a slight one. The much poorer Israel of the 1970s did indeed have social classes — and the social injustice of that time gave rise to a movement of young Sephardic Jews known as the “Black Panthers”. But compared to the Israel of today, the Jewish state of 30 years ago was a workers’ paradise.
Israel has gone from being one of the world’s more just and fair societies to one of the least. The rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer, on a scale unmatched in other countries.
Archive for November, 2005
I’ve just had a quick look at some of the best websites that focus on union rights — the Campaign for Labor Rights based in Washington, ICTUR in London, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Brussels. All three sites have a lot in common. They give trade unionists and the general public information about trade union rights and they all inspire us to become more active. They are all incredibly useful websites and they meet the needs of our movement for an online presence — if this were 1995.
|The launch of LabourStart TV (at http://www.labourstart.tv) may mark the beginning of new era in union communications. I say that knowing that it sounds like hyperbole, and grossly exaggerates what we are doing. But let me explain.
We have had the ability for more than a decade now to put videos on the net. The first clunky efforts (who remembers VDOLive?) were replaced by better tools like Real Player. Today’s videos — viewable with software such as Windows Media Player and Quick Time — can actually be quite good. Several of the major media players around the world are investing a lot in the delivery of films and television through the net. The publicly-owned BBC, for example, has announced plans to make nearly all of its programs viewable online.
I haven’t done a careful academic study of this, but it seems to me that few unions in Britain offer more opportunities for members to express themselves online than Napo — the union for family court and probation staff. Napo is a small union and was a late-comer to setting up a website. But its members have embraced the technology and are constantly inventing new ways of using the web for discussion.