Steelworkers and Amicus take first steps towards global super-union



    Merger exploration group to create 3.4 million member Trans-Atlantic
    union

    OTTAWA, April 18 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW), together with
Amicus and the Transportation & General Workers Union (T&GWU) of the United
Kingdom, today announced a formal process to prepare the ground for the
creation of the first Trans-Atlantic trade union.
    At a ceremony held in Ottawa at the USW's Canadian National Policy
Congress, representatives of the three unions signed an accord to set up a
merger exploration committee which will be tasked with laying down a
foundation for a legal merger within one year.
    The new union would represent more than 3.4 million members in the US,
Canada, UK and Ireland. It would be the world's biggest union and would be
expected to attract other union organizations throughout the world into
membership.
    During the exploration process, the unions will engage in coordinated
campaigning and common approaches to collective bargaining with multinational
companies.
    This agreement follows a strategic alliance signed between Amicus and the
USW two years ago. Amicus and the T&GWU will join together as one union with
two million members after May 1, 2007. The new union, based in London, will be
called "Unite".
    Statements were issued after a press call and signing of the 'Ottawa
Accord' by USW President Leo W. Gerard and Derek Simpson, General Secretary
for Amicus, as follows:

    Amicus, General Secretary, Derek Simpson said,

    "One of the main reasons for the merger between Amicus and the T&GWU was
our desire to create an international trade union that would be able to deal
with multinational companies on an equal footing. Coming as it does hot on the
heels of our mergers, today's announcement demonstrates the resonance that the
idea of a global super union has. "Multinational companies are pushing down
wages and conditions for workers the world over by playing one national
workforce off against another. The only beneficiaries of globalization are the
exploiters of working people and the only way working people can resist this
is to band together.
    "I hope today's announcements marks the beginning of the creation of a
formidable international trade union organization."

    USW International President Leo W. Gerard said,

    "Workers in this new century need a trans-Atlantic union to tame the
exploitation of global corporations, international banks and world trade
organizations.
    "The time for global unionism has arrived. We need cross-border
organizing strategies to protect workers against the mobility of capital that
knows no borders. Workers want their unions to develop labor contracts that
encompass global employers. We must meet the challenge and defend human rights
standards for all.
    "USW members in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean Basin know the
benefits of international unionism and are ready to commit support to today's
announcement for exploring the first trans-Atlantic union for workers in two
continents."

    T&GWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley, said:

    "This is an historic step for global trade unionism, and will help
working people to look even the biggest employer in the eye. Closer working
and agreement with North American trade unionists forms a crucial part of our
global organizing agenda, designed to stop bosses playing off workers in one
country against those in another."

    Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, said the document signed
at the National Policy Conference was a historic moment for the 600 delegates
representing USW members across Canada.
    "It is important for our members to be able to participate in the signing
of a document that will affect their future as workers in a global economy.
    "Our union has never been satisfied with limiting our reach exclusively
to Canada. And we are more than an international union. We are a global
network of workers and their organizations."
    The 'Ottawa Accord' signed by the three unions was titled: "Exploring a
Global Union for the 21st Century."
    The Accord stated: "Amicus-T&G and the USW firmly believe that over the
coming years only through greater international solidarity and cooperation can
we as a trade union movement, effectively represent the interests of our
members against the threats posed by global capital."

    It committed the North American and UK unions to:
    
    -   Creation of a Merger Exploration Committee of five principals from
        each union to study the legal framework, constitutions, rules and
        structures of the current unions during the next 12 months to suggest
        a framework for a formal merger.
    -   A regular exchange between senior officers to take place every
        quarter to monitor and develop areas of joint work and to find ways
        of integrating common programs to enhance the understanding and
        culture of the unions.
    -   Provide materials and financial resources for joint international
        solidarity projects that might include support of Columbia's trade
        union movement in the face of continued attacks on labour and human
        rights; capacity building projects with partner unions in Africa;
        solidarity work with the ship breakers of India and joint exploration
        of transnational corporations in China.
    -   Development of common approaches to collective bargaining in sectors
        and multinational companies where our joint membership work.
    -   Engage in regular participation in each union's educational and
        political conferences and activities.
    

    The full 'Ottawa Accord' signed by the USW, Amicus and the T&GWU, plus
details of the announcement creating a formal Merger Exploration Committee are
available by accessing www.usw.org or www.amicustheunion.org.




For further information:

For further information: Richard O'Brien (Amicus-UK), +7768931320,
+2074208936, richard.o'brien@amicustheunion.org; Pat Van Horne (USW-Canada),
(416) 347-0217, pvh@usw.ca; Gary Hubbard (USW-US), (202) 778-4384,
ghubbard@usw.org


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